You’ll hear it over and over again from your dentist in Ann Arbor — limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks. This is because sugar causes cavities, right? Well, sort of. Sugar itself doesn’t cause cavities, but what happens when we digest sugars can increase the risk of developing cavities. So if sugar isn’t to blame, then what is?
What Causes Cavities?
You may have had a mental image of sugar bugs attacking and decaying teeth, but in fact, bacteria are to blame for decay and cavities. When we eat sugars, they feed the bacteria naturally found in our mouths. As a byproduct, these bacteria release acid. The acid can then attack tooth enamel, removing the layer of protection. Once the enamel is gone, bacteria can work their way in and the process repeats itself. Only this time instead of wearing away enamel, acids wear away at the actual tooth causing a cavity.
How to Know If You Have a Cavity
In their early stages, cavities may not show any signs of a problem. That’s because the decay hasn’t reached the inner tooth where all the nerves live. But just because you don’t feel it doesn’t mean there’s not a problem. Your dentist in Ann Arbor will be able to diagnose a cavity at your bi-annual dental visits, but you should keep an eye out for any signs of a cavity in between those checkups. Some signs of a cavity include:
- Increased sensitivity
- Pain when biting down
- Seemingly random tooth pain
- Pain when eating sweets
- Visible holes
The best way to avoid a dental filling or perhaps even a root canal is to prevent a cavity from forming in the first place. Try these cavity-fighting tips.
- Drink plenty of water to help rinse away bacteria and neutralize acids
- Brush and floss your teeth twice a day
- Chew sugarless gum after snacks if you can’t brush
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year
Now that you know sugar doesn’t cause cavities, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can indulge in sugary sweets and drinks whenever you want. You should still listen to your dentist in Ann Arbor and reduce the amount of sugar you allow in your diet. It’s also important to brush and floss your teeth every day to remove any buildup of plaque and keep your teeth protected.
We’re always accepting new patients at our dental offices in Ann Arbor, Canton, Farmington Hills, and Livonia.