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Does Sugar Cause Tooth Problems?

Tooth decay is a bacterial infection that causes destruction of the teeth. Your mouth is full of bacteria, which combine with small food particles on the teeth/ gums and saliva to form plaque. When you consume food and drink high in carbohydrates particularly sugary foods and drinks the bacteria in plaque turn the carbohydrates into energy they need, producing acid at the same time. These acids decay and destroy the tooth.


Sugar plays a destructive role in tooth decay. The bacteria that form together to become plaque use sugar as a form of energy. Through which they multiply faster and the plaque grows in size and thickness. The bacteria turn the sugar into a kind of glue that they use to stick themselves to the tooth surface which makes it harder for the bacteria to get washed away with our saliva. So basically, its plaque not sugar that leads to tooth decay.

Plaque starts building up after every meal, and if it isn't brushed away frequently, it can erode the hard, outer enamel of a tooth, resulting in tiny holes in the tooth's surface. These holes mark the first stage of cavity formation.

Sugar Does Not Harm the Teeth Directly

The sugar itself does not harm the teeth. Lactic acid, which is produced when bacteria in the plaque eats the sugar is the cause. The acid lowers the pH level in the oral cavity and dissolves minerals from the enamel. The coating can then no longer fulfill its function as a protective jacket.

Saliva contains phosphates and calcium, which can help you fight off demineralization and repair the damage caused by acid. However, if you consume sugar in excessive amounts regularly, it will keep the acid levels high and reduce your ability to fight off tooth decay. In addition to sugar, starchy foods also lead to the growth of bacteria in your mouth.

The less sugar you consume, the lower the lactic acid production, and consequently, there’s less of a chance of tooth decay, resulting in an overall healthier oral cavity.

Which foods and drinks containing sugar causing tooth decay?

Numerous foods and drinks contain sugars that cause tooth decay.

1. Foods that contain sugar include:

  • Sweets & chocolate, Cakes & biscuits, Pastries & fruit pies

  • Puddings, Sugary breakfast cereals

  • Jam, Honey, Ice cream, Fruit in syrup, Dried fruit

  • Sweet sauces, Syrups, Ketchup 

2. Drinks that contain sugar include:

  • Fresh fruit juice – orange & apple juices

  • Soft drinks – squashes & fizzy drinks, Energy & Sports drinks

  • Some milk-based drinks –  milkshakes

  • Yoghurt based drinks

How Can You Defeat the Problems caused by Sugar?

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