Sugary Drinks and Dental Health

dentists CharlottesvilleYour dental health is precious and preserving vital oral tissue is something that people should keep in mind on a daily basis. Our modern diets, which are prevalent in acid and sugar, can lead to permanently damaged teeth and dental caries (tooth decay). These beverages can also contribute to gum disease. Sugary drinks are especially dangerous to teeth. In fact, dentists strongly discourage the consumption of sugar in its various forms.

Oral Bacteria and Teeth

Our mouths naturally contain oral bacteria. Some bacteria are helpful and some strains are harmful. One strain in particular, s. mutans, is responsible for the development of tooth decay when tooth enamel is damaged. This strain of bacteria is orally transmitted – normally from parents to children during infancy. All bacteria feed on sugar because sugar particles serve as a natural food source for them. When sugar particles coat the structures inside the mouth, bacteria go on a feeding frenzy. As bacteria feed on sugar, they release acid as a by-product, which also contributes to tooth decay by weakening tooth enamel.

Oral Bacteria and Gum Health

Beyond affecting teeth, oral bacteria can contribute to periodontal (gum) disease. When too much sugar is consumed and oral hygiene is inadequate, people can develop an overgrowth of oral bacteria. If irritants like tartar accumulation, alcohol, or cigarette/cigar smoke can inflame the gingiva. Inflamed gingiva are prone to infection and harmful oral bacteria can infect the gums, leading to the onset of gum disease.

Common Beverages to Avoid

Most people know that sodas contain sugar but many other beverages contain excessive amounts of sugar. Sports drinks and even fruit juices contain high amounts of sugar as well. Other drinks like energy drinks worry dentists, too. Many of these beverages are also acidic because acids are used to preserve food and drinks as well as flavor them.

Our oral surgeon provides a variety of oral health treatments such as tissue grafts, tooth extractions, and corrective jaw surgery. If you have been referred to our practice for treatment, call us today to schedule an appointment.