Sugar: It’s Just Not Good for You (and Really Bad for Your Teeth)!April 28, 2011
You may feel that we are stuck (pun intended) on the issue of sugar; but there are many reasons why we revisit it so often. The most obvious one is that, as medical professionals, we have studied its destructive effects on the body in general (more about that later). And as dentists with a busy practice, we have become hyper-aware of the damage it can do to our patients–most especially to their teeth.
Saif is a recent case in point. He was outgoing and charming, but his lifelong craving for sugar had left him with serious dental problems. He had developed a sweet tooth and passion for carbonated beverages as a little boy. And, like many other little boys, he also avoided brushing his teeth at night. So what had been a savory way of life for his taste buds had become a recipe for disaster for his teeth.
By the time he was studying for his MBA, it was payback time: as Saif put it himself, “I was addicted to sugar and soda, and had already had a lot of cavities and one root canal. My teeth were chipping away, and had lost a lot of their enamel.” Of course Saif was becoming unhappy with the way his front teeth looked, but it took a growing sensitivity to hot and cold foods to make him realize he would have to change his ways.
It’s easy to understand that sugar–which turns to acid in your mouth, and erodes the enamel on your teeth–can make you susceptible to cavities and to the dental plaque that accumulates around the base of your teeth. As your tooth enamel is eroded, the nerves in your teeth it protects become increasingly reactive to hot and cold. So cutting way down on your sugar consumption (and yes, frequent flossing and brushing) is the best way to keep your teeth and mouth clean and healthy.
But there’s much more to sugar than its identity as an enemy of good dental health! Because of its complex effects on body chemistry, it can lead directly to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. In the coming weeks, we will be de-mystifying some of its complexity so that you can make good choices for the future of your health, in body and in tooth! So, stay tuned…..and, in the meantime, just say no to that candy bar!