While it is common knowledge that sugar can cause cavities in the teeth, most are unsure as to exactly why this happens. According to dental professionals, the sugar does not actually result in the damage that occurs to the teeth; instead, it is the overall result of the events that take place once sugar is consumed – be it through a beverage or a food product.

sugary candy

The first individual to recognize a correlation between sweet foods and decay of the teeth was Aristotle, the Greek philosopher.

At the time, his hypothesis was not accepted; however, as time progressed, numerous studies concluded that he was correct.

In this guide, you will learn how sugar causes cavities – a hole that develops in a tooth that is a direct result of the onset of tooth decay.

Process of tooth decay

The Digestion of Sugars Results in Acid Production

We all have a multitude of bacteria within the mouth.

There are bacteria in the mouth that are considered to be highly beneficial for our dental health and there are bacteria present that are deemed “harmful”.

Certain types of bacteria produce an acid when contact is made with sugar. This aids in the overall digestion of the substance.

When the acid is produced, it wipes away the protective minerals that are part of the enamel on the tooth.

Dentists refer to this as “demineralization”. The saliva in the mouth aids in attempting to reverse the damage. This is referred to as “remineralization”.

The combination of substances found naturally in the saliva of the mouth and those found in tooth care products help in the process of repairing the enamel that is weakened by the naturally-produced acid in the mouth.

If one constantly consumes sugar, the process of demineralization continues to occur at such a rapid pace that remineralization is no longer as effective on the enamel.

As the tooth weakens, decay develops. Over time, that decay results in the formation of a hole in the tooth.

This is the cavity.

If not treated immediately, a cavity may become very troublesome, resulting in pain, discomfort, and the possibility of tooth loss.

scared child at dentist

How Do I Know If I Have a Cavity?

Undetected cavities have the potential to result in cavities, the loss of a tooth, and other types of complications. There are several signs that may indicate the development of a cavity. The following outline the most common:

  1. Tooth Sensitivity
  2. Tooth Pain
  3. Dark Spots Located on the Surface of the Tooth
  4. The Presence of a Hole or Holes in a Tooth
  5. A Chipped or Broken Tooth
  6. The Presence of Pus
  7. Bad Breath

What Do I Do If I Have a Cavity?

If you suspect that a cavity is present, you must make an appointment with a dentist right away. The dental professional will carefully inspect the teeth and will get X-rays. If a cavity is confirmed, there are various treatment options. These include treating with prescription-strength fluoride, fillings, crowns, having a root canal performed, or extraction of the tooth.

If you think your child has a cavity, seek assistance from a pediatric dentist. We here at Richmond Pediatric Dentistry can help! Simply contact us today at: