Can You Eat Sugar While Wearing Braces? How Sugar Affects Your Teeth

Kids are the most likely candidates for developing cavities, and they are also the largest population wearing braces. This presents a unique challenge considering braces make preventing cavities much harder. Besides good dental hygiene, diet also largely impacts the health of teeth beneath a set of braces.  Many will tell you that sugar is not the main cause of cavities, and to some extent this is true. If every time we ate sugar we vigorously washed out our mouths right after the negative effects would be minimized, it’s what sugar does when left inside of our mouth that wrecks havoc. Kimberly A. Harms, the former President of Minnesota Dental Association, explains that acid is actually the leading cause of cavities but sugar sparks an overproduction of acid. The more sugar one consumes, the more acid the mouth produces. The key to keeping cavities out is to limit the acid in your mouth; one way to easily do this is by limiting the amount of sugar you consume.  (Source: http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-teeth-10/cavities-myths)

Consequences of Eating Sugar With Braces

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry stresses the importance of exposure time to sugar, the longer duration teeth remain coated in sugar, the more harmful the consequences will be. Every time we eat something sugary our mouth undergoes a 20-minute acid attack. This means one sip of soda doesn’t expose your teeth to sugar for a few seconds, instead it places precious enamel under attack for 20-minutes. The more sweets you eat at one sitting, the worse the assault on your mouth will be. So what does an acid attack lead to? In moderation you’ll be just fine, but as soon as sugar becomes a common ingredient in your diet your teeth are in jeopardy.

If you brush and floss regularly your post-braces teeth should be pearly white, although if you eat too much sugar while wearing braces you might find a spotty surprise. Since sugar leads to acid, which leads to tooth decay, a build up of this grim under braces will leave behind white spots. Once these spots form on teeth it can take a really long time for them to fade, if they ever do completely. Also, overtime acid breaks down your tooth enamel, causing erosion that can be painful and cause overly sensitive teeth. This increasingly acidic environment remains less protected, meaning you are more susceptible to cavities. With time acid will eat away at your teeth, creating pockets or holes for bacteria to thrive inside, just out of reach from your toothbrush and floss. Sugar is extremely hard on teeth and while wearing braces the negative impact of sugar multiplies.

Avoiding Sugary Foods With Braces

As soon as we eat sugar, including carbohydrates and starchy foods, the bacteria in our mouth flourishes, causing a production of acid, which leads to tooth decay. To protect your teeth from these harmful results avoid sugar besides the occasional treat. For instance, while wearing braces you don’t want to consume sugary drinks at every meal, and while soda might be the first thing that comes to mind, other seemingly healthy options are bloated with sugar too. Take Orange Juice or Sports drinks for example. Any beverage that contains sugar will stain your teeth; stick to sugar free beverages (water, milk), and for the occasional sugary drink splurge try sipping through a straw to limit some tooth-to-Cola contact. Since prolonged exposure to sugar causes the most harm, avoid foods like hard sucking candies that remain in your mouth for sustained periods of time, polluting your mouth with an overload of harmful sugar.(http://www.ada.org/sections/publicResources/pdfs/watch_curriculum.pdf_)

As your Los Angeles Orthodontist we want to see sparkling healthy teeth the moment your braces are removed, the first way to guarantee these results is to limit your sugar intake.