Does Sugar Cause Gum Disease?

Dentist Blog

Gum disease occurs in several forms, including gingivitis (the early form,) periodontitis (advanced gum disease,) and aggressive periodontitis (serious gum disease.) No matter which type of gum disease you're dealing with, the odds are very high that sugar was at least a partial cause. Here's what you should know about sugar, periodontal disease, and its damaging effects. 

Sugar and Gingivitis

Gingivitis causes symptoms like reddened gums, swollen gums and sometimes minor bleeding. Whilst one of the main causes of gingivitis is lack of oral hygiene, sugar has a close connection as well. Brushing inadequately—or failing to brush regularly—is damaging enough on its own, but if you've been eating foods with high sugar content, gingivitis can happen much sooner than it otherwise would. 

Sugar also causes gum disease to advance much more aggressively. Gingivitis can soon develop below the gums, where it will turn into the next stage of gum disease, periodontitis. Treatment of gingivitis starts with regular plaque removal, both at home (through proper brushing) and through dental cleanings. Dietary changes—mainly, reducing the amount of sugar that you eat—are an excellent guard against future gum disease. 

Sugar and Periodontitis

Periodontitis is the result of untreated gingivitis. When sugar sits on the gums for extended periods, the bacteria it attracts begin eroding everything around them. First, the acid produced by the bacteria wears away at the gums because they're the softest tissue in the mouth. The periodontitis travels continually lower as it seeks new tissue to destroy. 

If periodontitis is not treated promptly, it will start eating away at the teeth roots and even the bone in your jaw. If treatment is started promptly, periodontitis can be reversed, at least to some degree. Your dentist may be able to rebuild some of the gum tissue that was lost, and teeth can often be preserved if the roots were not compromised yet. 

Once periodontitis has been treated, you'll need to make a commitment to better oral hygiene. This includes careful daily brushing, dental cleanings at least twice a year, and dramatic reduction of sugar in your diet. 

Sugar and Aggressive Periodontitis

When periodontitis isn't treated, it can quickly take over the whole mouth. It's not uncommon for a person with aggressive periodontitis to lose multiple teeth or even all of their teeth. Whilst your dentist can help by installing dentures or dental implants, you'll still need to make some changes to prevent oral health issues in the future. 

Patients with aggressive periodontitis need to be especially mindful of what they eat. The gums are needed to support the dental implants or dentures, and if sugar attacks the gums, they won't be able to do that job. 

Sugar is an enemy for oral health in general, whether you're dealing with mild plaque or serious gum disease. Speak to your dentist about eliminating sugar from your diet—your oral health is worth it!


25 April 2018

Teeth And Tears: Dental Dramas Of A School Nurse

I have worked as a school nurse for decades. Children come to me with all sorts of scrapes and bumps and bruises. Black eyes from playing football, sprained wrists from falling off the monkey bars and stomachaches from too many sweets are common complaints. However, the issue that seems to cause the greatest angst is tooth problems. Sometimes a child will have a second tooth knocked out when playing sport and parents arrive in tears. At other times, children come to my office crying because their friends are teasing them about teeth that are discoloured or stick out. I take an active interest in the latest dental news so that I can give parents and children comfort and advice. I have included some of my collected wisdom on these pages. Perhaps this information can help you understand some options when faced with a dental problem. Thank you for reading.