Why The Combination Of Oral Bacteria And Sugar Causes Tooth Decay

If you have ever had a cavity that needed a filling or crown, then you have suffered from tooth decay. Tooth decay occurs gradually and is the result of oral bacteria-producing acids that eat into tooth enamel. And when you combine sugar with oral bacteria, the risk of tooth decay increases considerably.

If you eat a diet high in sugary foods, then you have a high risk of tooth decay.

Oral bacteria consume sugars for energy

Just as you eat sugar for enjoyment and for energy in some cases, oral bacteria consume sugar as part of their diet. Sugar is a carbohydrate, like starch and fiber. So every time you eat carbohydrates, you provide oral bacteria with food. The problem with this for your teeth is that oral bacteria produce an acidic waste material that damages the enamel of your teeth. So, the more sugar you eat, the more food you provide the oral bacteria with.  

Simple sugars help oral bacteria to reproduce

The type of sugars that you eat matters too. If you eat complex carbohydrates, like pasta, rice, and potatoes, these foods take a long time to break down, so there is less risk of tooth decay. However, if your diet is rich in foods that contain simple sugars, the simplest of which is called glucose, then oral bacteria can very quickly break down these sugars and use them for energy.

When oral bacteria have an abundance of simple sugars to feast on, they can also multiply quickly. So, eating foods rich in simple sugars, like baked goods, honey, and candy, will create an abundance of acid-producing bacteria in your mouth.

Oral bacteria produce plaque, which becomes tartar

Another problem with eating too much sugar is that you increase your risk of tartar formation. Tartar is the result of failing to clean plaque, the sticky film on your teeth that oral bacteria live inside, from your teeth each day. You cannot remove tarter yourself. And since tartar contains the acidic byproduct of oral bacteria, it gradually damages your teeth and gums over time.

Eat complex sugars to reduce the risk of tooth decay

How do you avoid the tooth decay that comes from oral bacteria breeding out of control? You eat more complex sugars like pasta and rice, and less simple sugars like candy and ice cream.

If your diet has led to cavities, you need to see a general dentist. With prompt dental care, you can save affected teeth with fillings or crowns, rather than opting for extraction.

For more information, contact a dentist in your area, such as Mark A. Massa, DDS, Inc.