You’ve probably heard that sugar causes cavities, but does that mean all types of sugar? Is it safe to eat fruit or drink juice because it’s natural? Does the sugar in fruit cause cavities too? Let’s talk about the different kinds of sugars and how they can affect your teeth so you can know how to reduce your risk of cavities through your diet.
Why is Sugar Bad?
First of all, let’s talk about why sugar can be bad for your teeth. Your mouth contains lots of naturally occurring bacteria. Sugar feeds the bacteria, which produces an acid that can erode your enamel or the outer layer of your teeth. It can also produce a clear film, called plaque, that sticks to your teeth and keeps the acid-producing bacteria attached to your teeth for longer.
Different Types of Sugar
Many people don’t know this, but there are several different types of sugar. There’s sucrose (table sugar), lactose (the sugar in milk), glucose (the sugar in grains) and fructose (the sugar in fruit). All types of sugar can be harmful to your teeth, but some can be more harmful than others.
With naturally occurring sugars in whole foods, such as the sugar in fruit, the amount of sugar is balanced with the amount of liquid and fiber to help stimulate saliva production and wash away the sugars. When extra sugar is added to foods or drinks, whether it’s artificial or natural sugars, it can throw off the balance, resulting in a sugary residue remaining on the teeth for longer periods of time.
Even natural foods that have been modified from their raw state, such as dried fruit, can result in sticker sugars that can attach themselves to teeth for hours due to the liquid being removed that would normally wash it away. Fruit juice is another example, thanks to the removal of the fiber in whole fruits, eliminating the need for chewing which would scrub your teeth clean and promote saliva production.
So, does the sugar in fruit cause cavities? Unfortunately, yes, it can, but the risk can be much less than from other foods or fruit that is not in its natural raw form, so fruit can still be a healthy choice for your dental and whole body health.
Talking to Your Dentist About Sugars
If you have other questions like, “Does the sugar in fruit cause cavities?” It’s a great idea to talk with your dentist about sugars and their effect on your teeth. Your dentist is an expert in fighting cavities and can help you learn how to best protect and support the health of your smile.
Call our Melissa Dental Office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.