Ever since you were a child, you probably heard your parents say, “If you eat too much candy, you’re going to rot your teeth.” But now that you’re an adult and you have children to look out for, you’re probably asking yourself, is that really true? Does sugar really cause cavities? Well, the answer is yes and no.
If a person has a diet that is high in sugar, they are setting themselves up for a whole host of health issues, including obesity. A diet that is high in sugar does promote the formation of cavities, but it’s not really what causes tooth decay.
Cavities are created when bacteria in the mouth eat carbohydrate debris on the teeth. This debris is left by the food that you eat. The debris can include things like refined sugars that are found in donuts and sugary treats. But that same debris can also be found in healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables and even some whole grain foods.
As the bacteria try to digest the carbohydrates, they produce an acid that, when mixed with saliva, creates the dreaded plaque. It is this plaque, not the sugar, that is the culprit for cavities.
Plaque builds up on the teeth immediately after every meal. If plaque is not removed promptly, it will start to erode the enamel of the teeth. This creates small holes in the surface of the teeth. These holes are what eventually lead to the formation of cavities.
As anyone who has had a cavity treated by a dentist or as anyone who has had a root canal knows, these small holes caused by plaque can lead to some serious problems. They will eventually eat through the external layer of the teeth and attack the softer layer of the teeth known as the dentin. From there, they will continue to attack the teeth until they hit the pulp. This pulp is where the blood vessels and nerves are located. Once this happens, the bones that are supporting the teeth are at risk of damage. A person ends up with sensitivity and pain while eating. They end up with abscesses in the mouth, and eventually they will need to have the cavity fixed or a root canal.
The truth is that sugar is just one of a wide variety of carbohydrates that can lead to cavities. Now, does this mean that your child should quit eating their vegetables and fruits and just stick to eating candy because at the end of the day, they all have the potential to cause plaque? Absolutely not. Sugary foods have very little nutritional value. If your child eats foods with low nutritional value, their body has a hard time recovering from damage, including the damage caused by plaque.
Your teeth are very valuable. Of course, the same is true for your child’s teeth. In addition to helping them eat, they affect the way they sound when they speak, and they are part of their aesthetic appeal. Protect your child’s teeth by watching their diet, helping them brush and floss after every meal and visiting our office regularly.
If you suspect your child may have a cavity, or if they simply haven’t been to the dentist in a while, schedule an appointment at Ashburn Children’s Dentistry in Ashburn. Contact us today to book an appointment for your little one!