Northwest Arkansas Family Dental
Fayetteville, AR Dentist

Sugar: Food for Bacteria

July 25, 2017
Posted By: Dr. Meg Johnson
Top Dentist Fayetteville

You probably know that sugar can cause cavities, but you may not know why. Cavities develop when bacteria produce acid that softens enamel, and bacteria’s favorite food is sugar.

Sugar does not just come from the sugar bowl in the cupboard or the bag of gummy bears in your desk drawer, however. Sugar can be found in so many of the foods we eat, including bread, chips, bagels, ketchup, and salad dressing. It may feel futile to try to avoid it entirely.

There are, however, connections between sugar and cavities that make it easier to take steps to reduce the effects of sugar in your daily diet. Some of these steps include:

  • Regular brushing and flossing
  • Dental cleanings
  • Minimizing gooey, sugary snacks

You Can Spread Cavities through Bacteria

It may also be a surprise to learn that cavities are contagious. Rather, the bacteria that cause cavities are contagious, and you can pass them along to your kids or loved ones through sharing utensils, drinking out of the same glass, or even kissing.

This is often why people say that their cavities are genetic and that their parents also had bad teeth. Bad teeth can run in families, but perhaps not in the way you originally imagined.

So, how can you avoid passing bacteria around the house?

Here are some tips:

Brush your teeth and tongue – Bacteria love small spaces, and the rough surface of your tongue provides the exact environment they need to reproduce rapidly. While some bacteria will always be present in the mouth, you can minimize them by brushing properly for two minutes or more twice daily – including your tongue.

Treat decay immediately – Decay will not “heal” on its own and will likely continue to grow. Regular diagnostic x-rays and exams can identify any cavities so you can address them.

Fluoride treatments – While fluoride does not stop bacteria, it does strengthen enamel and provides a solution for patients who are more prone to developing decay.

Dental sealants – Dental sealants place a nearly invisible barrier between your teeth and bacteria. Don't forget – brushing and flossing are still necessary, even with sealants.

Why choose just any dentist when you can have a top dentist right here in Fayetteville? Dr. Wade Kifer can discuss how to kick the sugar habit or at least how to keep it from destroying your smile. Call our office today! 

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