Halloween is the time for varied sweets and candies. Kids and adults alike divulge in sticky sugar and syrupy drinks. While sugary sweets are a big part of Halloween and other holidays, they are not great for your teeth.
How Does Sugar React to Your Teeth?
Sugar alone doesn’t necessarily hurt your teeth. However, sugar reacts to the bacteria in your mouth, causing several adverse effects.
Much like the rest of your body, your mouth houses both good and bad bacteria. The bacteria feed on the sugar and create acid. This acid will attack and destroy the protective layer of your teeth (enamel). Additionally, this acid will remove essential minerals from your teeth, weakening them.
If you don’t have a good oral health routine, the sugar you consume from candy will linger in your mouth. This allows time for the bacteria to eat the sugar and form acid. Over time, this can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Once the acid destroys your enamel, you cannot restore it.
There are ways you can remineralize your teeth—naturally with saliva or through toothpaste and mouthwash. However, it may not be as effective for long-term habits.
What Can It Cause?
The reaction that sugar creates in your mouth can cause a few issues, especially if you don’t have good oral hygiene.
Tooth decay is the slow destruction of the enamel. Initially, tooth decay begins as a small pit in the enamel. We refer to the pit as a cavity, which can create future problems. The cavity forms because of the reaction that sugar makes with bacteria. First, the acid slowly destroys the enamel. Then, the cavity continues to grow larger and burrow into the tooth. Eventually, it will burrow through the dentin and the pulp, which houses the tooth’s nerves and blood vessels.
Without treatment, cavities will continuously decay through the tooth and the connective tissues. It is possible to develop into an infection that could spread to your gums and other teeth. Extreme tooth decay can cause more invasive procedures to halt the decay. Alternatively, dentists can generally fix cavities with dental fillings.
In the first stages of a cavity, you may not experience any symptoms. You may notice some discoloration or see a small pit on your tooth. Otherwise, you will begin to feel sensitivity to sugar and temperatures.
Gum disease is the inflammation and infection of the gums. Typically, we call the earliest stage of gum disease “gingivitis.” Gingivitis can make your gums red or inflamed. Additionally, you can experience some swelling or bleeding. As gum disease advances, you are at risk for infection or potentially losing your teeth. Gum disease also affects the connective tissues, which allows the teeth to loosen and shift.
When you have plaque buildup, it will collect under the gum line as well as on the surface of your teeth. Without proper brushing and flossing, the plaque will linger under your gums, irritating the tissue. Eventually, gum disease will begin to develop, slowly destroying your gums.