If you’re like most people, you already know that sugary beverages can have a detrimental effect on your dental health, but you might not be aware of exactly why and how that process takes place. To put it simply, sugar interacts with bacteria that are already present in the mouth to form acids that attack your teeth, eroding the enamel and causing tooth decay. The reaction between sugar and bacteria lasts for an average of 20 minutes, and unfortunately, a similar reaction occurs when artificial sweeteners are a part of the picture. Many people sip sweet beverages for a good portion of the day during the course of their regular routine and then wonder why they develop dental health issues.
Why Sipping Sugary Beverages is Harmful to Your Teeth
After enough enamel is lost as the result of erosion caused by the acids that are produced as sugar, sugar substitutes, and bacteria interact, teeth become increasingly vulnerable to decay and may develop calories as a result. Tooth sensitivity also increases as the enamel wears away, and gum tissues may develop a bacterial infection of gingivitis, which is the onset of gum disease and will almost certainly progress to a more serious condition known as periodontitis if allowed to continue untreated.
The major culprits are soda and sweetened coffee and tea, but keep in mind that even though fruit juice and sweetened water are considered healthy by most people, they also contain sugars that can react with bacteria to cause erosion of tooth enamel.
Is It Necessary to Give Up Sugary Beverages?
Although cutting back as much as possible on sugary beverages is definitely recommended, it isn’t necessary to give them up altogether unless advised by your dentist. Drinking sugary beverages through a straw helps minimize contact with the teeth. As an added layer of protection, rinse your mouth thoroughly with fluoridated water after drinking a beverage. Avoid consuming sugary or acidic beverages before going to bed at night, and if you drink them in the evening, wait at least one hour before brushing your teeth.
If you feel that your teeth have already been damaged by drinking sugary beverages, please feel free to contact us at your convenience for more information on how to protect your smile or to schedule an appointment for a dental exam.