Does sugar cause cavities?

How is it possible to get cavities if you don’t eat that much sugar? Is sugar the only cause of tooth decay? Could it be that other types of sweets or sugar-substitutes increase your risk of getting a cavity?

Sugars increase acid production and risk of cavities

Each type of food has different chemical properties and pH levels. Sugars are simple carbohydrates. They’re broken down quickly, starting when they come into contact with saliva. When this process happens, acidic byproducts are created, fueling additional plaque formation. Even artificial sweeteners contribute to this process (“sugar free” doesn’t mean “cavity free”!) It’s plaque that processes the sugar, creating additional acids inside of the mouth. Higher levels of acids and more frequent exposure — such as eating sugar on a frequent basis — can increase cavity formation. Sugar is often used as an additive to make foods more palatable, it’s also found naturally in many products such as milk and fruit juice. Eating food with any type of sugar, natural or not, will create an acid byproduct as soon as it’s broken down by saliva.

Can sugar be good for you?

There are actually some types of sugars that are good for your teeth, such as xylitol. As a 5-carbon sugar, xylitol physically prevents plaque biofilm from adhering to your teeth. The sad news is that eating too much of it can cause gastrointestinal discomfort.

Are some sugars worse than others?

Did you know that the type of sugar you consume can make you more likely to get cavities than other types of sugar? For example, liquid sugars — like what you find in a soda or flavored coffee — coat your teeth and all of the grooves and crevices. The sugars seep down into hard-to-reach areas and as a result, raise your risk of decay. Sticky foods like candy that adhere to your teeth for a long time can also be “worse” on your smile than options like chocolate, which quickly melt away.

What does saliva do?

Every time you eat, your saliva breaks down food particles to prepare them for the digestive process. One of the results of that break-down is an acidic byproduct, which fuels dental plaque. Each time you eat, the acid lasts for about half an hour inside of your mouth. So in theory, snacking more frequently can raise your risk of cavities. Especially with certain types of foods. Sugar being one, but carbohydrates being another. Drinks like diet soda and sports drinks are just as — if not more so — dangerous to your tooth enamel as a naturally sweetened soda. If you have more dental plaque on your teeth, your mouth will be creating even more biofilm byproducts each time you eat. So brushing your teeth throughout the day can help you lower your risk of decay, along with less frequent snacking.sugar

How do I fight cavities before they start?

The best way to combat tooth decay is to brush and floss daily, drink plenty of water, and schedule regular checkups with your dentist. During your six-month checkup, be sure to ask about options like fluoride varnish or protective sealants to safeguard your smile even further against the risk of decay.


How hard is a tooth?

Did you know that tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the entire human body? It’s true, and it’s one reason why dental records are often used for instances involving forensics. Teeth are packed with a dense amount of hydroxyapatite crystals, which makes them even stronger than human bone.

Is my tooth hard all of the way through?

Not every part of a tooth is hard, though. Once you get through the outer shell of enamel — which only covers the crown, or area above the gumlines — you reach the dentin and then the pulp (nerve tissues.) Dentin is much softer. Once a cavity creeps through the strong tooth enamel and reaches dentin, the decay spreads quickly and widely. Why? Because dentin is weaker and less dense.

Are baby teeth hard?

Compared to adult teeth, baby (primary) teeth are much weaker. They lack the inner dentin structure and are made to resorb when pressed against by adult teeth, which allows them to “shrink” into a shell over time before falling out. As such, they’re usually more prone to fractures of tooth decay.

What are things that can damage strong enamel?

Although tooth enamel is strong, it’s still susceptible to certain things that can permanently damage your smile. Here are a few examples: Wear (Bruxism): When teeth wear against other teeth abnormally — whether it’s due to a misaligned bite or a clenching and grinding habit like bruxism — your enamel will suffer. Gradually, the teeth will develop jagged or sharp edges, before getting flatter over time. Adjusting how healthy teeth bite together can help to eliminate unwanted wear. Aggressive Toothbrushing: Always use a soft bristled toothbrush when you clean your teeth, and only place just enough pressure to make the tissues blanch. Anything more than that — or using moderate to stiff bristled brushes — can physically wear notches into your enamel. Such areas are usually seen along the corners of your mouth, close to the gumlines. That is, just behind your eye teeth and in front of your molars. A triangle-shaped notch appears cut into the tooth and gum recession may also be present. Acids, Plaque, Sugar, and Carbs: As you probably guessed, enamel is also susceptible to elements that cause cavities. A cavity is a physical “hole” inside of the tooth, due to bacteria and acids eating their way through the enamel. Acidic liquids (such as diet soda or sports drinks) or a high-carb diet can encourage a higher amount of plaque biofilm inside of your mouth. Without proper brushing and flossing, those bacteria will multiply and create new acids, continuing the decay process and causing the cavity to spread. As we learned already, once a cavity works its way through the enamel, it expands more quickly inside the inner layers of the tooth.

What is regular tartar removal? 

Dental calculus — commonly referred to as “tartar” — is calcified plaque that’s accumulated across teeth and root surfaces (just under the edges of your gums.) Even if you brush and floss daily, some of the areas in your mouth will tend to develop buildup.Unfortunately, calculus can’t be removed with conventional brushing and flossing. Being that it harbors disease-causing bacteria, tartar buildup will lead to tissue detachment, gum recession, and bone loss.Seeing a hygienist regularly provides an opportunity to have all of the buildup removed, so that your oral health is easier to maintain. For most healthy individuals, a cleaning is recommended every six months.However, people with a history of gum disease or who tend to have heavy buildup may need to see their hygienist every 3-4 months.

Chewing Ice

Is it bad to chew ice?

Your whole life, you’ve probably heard things like:“Chewing ice can break your teeth.”“Don’t chew ice, it will damage your dental work.”“If you chew ice, it means you’re anemic.”It turns out there’s some truth behind each of these statements, even if chewing ice doesn’t result in injury 100% of the time. But if it’s a habit you tend to do several times a week, you need to take note. Over time, you may wind up with dental (or medical) bills that could have otherwise been avoided.

Dental materials contracting and expanding

Think back to elementary school, when you learned how things expand and contract depending on their temperature. It’s the same when you put ice inside of your mouth. If you have any dental work — such as fillings — they will respond differently to the cold temperature than the tooth around them does.If your teeth and fillings contract and expand at different rates, it can cause the bond between them to break down. The filling becomes loose, leaky, or may even result in your tooth cracking the next time you bite down.

Pressure and Broken Teeth

Ice comes in various textures. If you’re chewing and biting down onto more condensed ice cubes, it’s practically the same thing as grinding on a jawbreaker candy or rocks — your teeth will eventually give out. Although enamel is the hardest thing in your entire body, it can’t withstand biting into something that hard over and over. If you’ve been lucky until now, that’s great. But it’s usually a matter of time before a weak area (like a crack or filling) suddenly breaks.However, softer types of ice — like the small round pellets you find in fountain drink machines — are usually easier and safer to chew. If you feel like you must suck on or chew ice, this is the type of texture that you want to be sure you’re sticking to.

Are You anemic?

Although it’s technically an old wives’ tale that people who chew ice are anemic, certain medical professionals will tell you that there’s some truth to it. If you find yourself constantly craving ice, it won’t hurt to go ahead and start supplementing your iron levels. Iron can be taken via a multivitamin, but it’s also found in leafy green vegetables like fresh spinach.In the worst-case scenario, ask your physician about your iron levels during your next annual physical. He or she may recommend a small blood draw just to make sure that everything is ok.

Tooth Sensitivity

Some people’s teeth tend to be more sensitive than others. Factors such as gum recession, exposed root surfaces, and use of whitening toothpastes or similar products may compound the symptoms. When you chew ice, it may lead to pain that leaves you wondering if something is wrong with your teeth.

Bad Breath?

What causes bad breath?

Halitosis (chronic bad breath) is an embarrassing condition that can affect your personal, private, and professional life. Even if your friends aren’t saying anything, you’re aware of the problem.

Dry Mouth

When the natural flora inside of your mouth is altered, odorous bacteria can become plentiful. Xerostomia (dry mouth) is a common result of many medications. But even self-care products like mouthwash often contain alcohol, which is a naturally drying agent.


Breath mints, gum, and sweetened drinks (even if they’re artificially sweetened) can feed bacteria and cause them to multiply. While a mint or gum may offer short-term immediate relief, the symptoms of bad breath can be worse within the hour. Opt for products that contain Xylitol, which inhibit biofilm buildup.

Tongue Surfaces

Approximately 90% of bad breath bacteria reside somewhere on the surface of your tongue. Covered in hundreds of tiny papillae, your tongue is a convenient host for bacteria. Use a special tongue cleaner to wipe away buildup a few times a day; you might just be surprised at how much film it removes.

GI Health Issues

Believe it or not, some of the causes of bad breath may not come from your mouth at all. It could be a gastrointestinal issue or health condition causing odors to come up through your digestive tract and into your mouth. If you and your dentist cannot pinpoint the cause of your halitosis, it’s time to see your physician!

Food Selection

Sure, garlic can leave a strong and lingering smell for a while, but other foods like eggs and milk can cause a delayed effect. Sulphur compounds can cause odorous bacteria to multiply well after your meal is over. Keep a food diary and mark when you notice symptoms of halitosis, then bring it with you to your dental checkup to see if there’s any correlation in your food choices and the problem at hand.

Periodontal Disease

When addressing the previous issues doesn’t seem to help with relieving symptoms of breath malodor, it’s likely that the halitosis is caused by an infection within the gum tissues surrounding your teeth. Chronic gum disease is known for harboring potent bacteria that cannot be reached with a toothbrush or floss, leading to ongoing symptoms of bad breath.Seeing a dentist for a periodontal exam will provide you with fast answers as to if a gum infection is causing bad breath and equip you with a straightforward solution to correct it. Usually a series of deep cleanings or other soft tissue therapies such as laser treatment are adequate for eliminating the infection and managing relapse.

Mouth Swelling

Why do I Have Swelling in my Mouth?

Swelling in your mouth can have several causes. These commonly range from infection, trauma and blocked salivary glands to normal bone growth. Less commonly, mouth swellings may be due to cysts or tumors.

What causes Mouth Swellings?

  • Swellings in your mouth may be due to the following:
  • Tooth or gum infections
  • Trauma from bite problems or an ill-fitting denture
  • Blocked salivary glands
  • Cysts
  • Tumors
  • Normal anatomy of your mouth (i.e., bony growths called “tori” that can develop over time near the base of your teeth)

Who is at high risk for Mouth Swellings?

People with untreated bite problems, heavily restored teeth, badly broken-down teeth or advanced gum disease are at higher risk for dental infections and are therefore more likely to experience mouth swellings. People with compromised immune systems are also at higher risk for developing mouth infections and therefore swelling. People with an ill-fitting denture may develop swelling where the denture rubs. People with untreated bite problems may also traumatize their cheeks and tongue resulting in swelling. Less commonly, diseases such as Sjogren’s Syndrome or mumps may lead to swelling in the mouth.

What is my role in dealing with Mouth Swellings?

Pay attention to the size, shape, color, consistency, location, appearance and duration of the swelling. If the swelling lasts longer than one week, grows in size, becomes painful or recurs over time you must have the area examined by your dentist.

What can happen if I do nothing about the Mouth Swellings?

Ignoring swelling in your mouth can be dangerous. If the swelling is due to an infection it can cause serious damage to your body and may ultimately be life threatening. In the rare event that it is cancer, it can lead to disfigurement or death. Both of these types of swellings must be diagnosed and treated in a timely manner.

Wisdom Teeth

Do wisdom teeth need to be removed?

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the final teeth to develop in the mouth, usually in our late teens or early twenties. The 4 wisdom teeth are the last teeth in the back of your mouth – top and bottom. Not everyone has them and if they do not crowd other teeth, they can stay and act like other molars for chewing food.

Pain and Infection

Often times, wisdom teeth become trapped in the jawbone and don’t break through the gum tissue. Sometimes wisdom teeth are crooked and cause cavities or gum disease. If wisdom teeth are crooked, blocked by other teeth or have a flap of gum tissue on top, plaque and food can enter around the tooth and cause cavities, gum disease or wisdom tooth infection.X-rays are taken to see if you have wisdom teeth and how they are placed in your jawbone.

How are wisdom teeth removed?

In many cases, it is a good idea that trapped wisdom teeth be extracted. Depending on the location of the tooth, taking out the tooth can be done in your dentist’s office or in an oral surgeon’s office. Angular, bony impaction of third molarSoft tissue impaction of third molar.An incision is made and overlying soft tissue and bone are removed, exposing the crown of the impacted tooth.The tooth is extracted whole or surgically cut into large pieces, which can be removed separately if the entire tooth cannot be removed at once. The site is closed with stitches.

Tips for a Speedy Recovery:

  • Use ice packs on the cheek for swelling, putting the pack on for 30 minutes and leaving it off for 30 minutes
  • Bite on clean gauze to stop bleeding
  • Eat soft foods and drink extra liquids
  • Don’t chew hard or crunchy foods in tender areas
  • Brush carefully the day after surgery
  • Follow the instructions for taking any medications your dentist recommends
  • Don’t use drinking straws as the suction can dislodge the blood clot in the tooth socket
  • Don’t drink hot liquids
  • Your dentist may tell you to use a mouthwash

Oral Cancer

What are the Signs of Oral Cancer?

During your oral cancer exam, your dentist or hygienist will be visually assessing and physically palpating areas like the insides of your cheek, sides of the tongue, floor of the mouth, back of the mouth/throat, and lymph nodes in your neck. Some of the most noticeable symptoms of oral cancer include:
  • Sores that don’t heal in a timely manner
  • Lumps or bumps on one side of your mouth
  • Fixed nodules under your skin
  • Atypical growths
  • Loss of the “border” around your lip lines
  • Red, white, or spotty areas
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sunken in areas
Notice that pain and discomfort aren’t on the list. Since oral cancer doesn’t usually hurt, it’s easy to overlook. It’s important to look inside your mouth regularly (while you’re brushing and flossing is fine) to take note of any areas that don’t look like they should. When something appears abnormal, watch it for 10-14 days to see if it improves. If it doesn’t, schedule a visit with your dentist as soon as you can.

Who should I see for help?

Your dental team is a go-to source for oral cancer screenings and diagnosis. As experts when it comes to oral anatomy, dentists can help to put your mind at ease if it’s a false alarm, make appropriate diagnosis regarding your condition, and guide you to the next steps to take if cancer treatment is necessary. Regular oral cancer screenings can save your life. The best person to perform these evaluations is your dentist, because of how attentive they are to your intraoral and extraoral anatomy, having been able to evaluate it twice per year if you schedule regular checkups. Some dental offices use advanced oral cancer screening systems, which pinpoint abnormal tissues on a cellular level, before they’re visible to the naked eye. The process generally involves a special rinse and light, which illuminates cells that differ from the healthy ones around them. If precancerous or abnormal tissues are observed, they may be monitored, or a biopsy taken. Once the results of your brush or punch biopsy return, you can get a referral to an oncologist or oral surgeon as needed.

When was your last oral cancer screening?

Is your dentist performing an oral cancer exam at each checkup? If they aren’t, you need to be visiting an oral health provider who takes pathological screenings into account during your visits.

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