Why tooth decay REALLY happens. (It's not just sugar)

Author: Dr Steven Lin

We've all had that guilty feeling. You're going to your dental check-up and you haven't quite kept your promise to reduce your sugar intake. This was a big problem in my dental practice for a long time. We've known the sugar and tooth decay relationship for years now. Yet we're still consuming more sugar than ever. Dentists have been unsuccessfully recommending to reduce our sugar intake for years. And why is this so? It's because our understanding of tooth decay has been incomplete. It's now well-established that sugar causes obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Tooth decay is caused by the same fundamental process as these other diseases. And let's look at why. See we've seen tooth decay as a process of infection. The sugar feeds harmful bacteria that release acid and subsequently break down our teeth.

Most people are aware that sugar feeds bacteria such as strep mutants that cause tooth decay. But I'm here to tell you the tooth decay is not an infection. The oral microbiome consists of thousands of microbes. What we've vastly unappreciated is that in health these microbes are actually crucial for our dental health.

They perform critical functions that protect our teeth. See the mouth is a harsh place to live and bacteria literally cling on for their life. Imagine living where you chomp your food, for example. And that's what your oral microbiome does. In order to survive, these bacteria actually make dental plaque and it acts like a house where they're protected from this harsh oral environment. When you eat you feed the fast metabolizing bugs in the oral microbiome. They're normally kept in check by the friendly bacteria that stop these harmful bugs.

Why tooth decay REALLY happens. (It's not just sugar)

Tooth decay is a sign you've starved your friendly microbial populations and force them to literally extract minerals from your teeth. In the same sense, these changes caused downstream problems through your body such as weight issues, metabolic problems and digestive issues and it's all caused by your gut microbiome. In The Dental Diet we'll learn to appreciate the mouth as a true way to understand how food impacts our entire body.

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