How sugar damages your teeth

Sugar doesn’t actually do any damage to your teeth. The damage is done by a bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, which is a natural resident of our mouth, and produces acid....

Sugar doesn’t actually do any damage to your teeth. The damage is done by a bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, which is a natural resident of our mouth, and produces acid.

Streptococcus mutans will feed off anything it can find in our mouth – generally food which is in-between your teeth. Fortunately there isn’t usually much available, because food spends very little time in the mouth, which means that Streptococcus mutans rarely has much time to break down and metabolize it before it passes into our digestive system.

The lack of ready-to-eat food in the mouth keeps the population of Streptococcus mutans low, and so the acid it produces has little to no impact on mouth health – it is something we have evolved to cope with in low amounts. This changes when sugar is consumed, especially sugar drinks.

Sugar is instant energy, both for us and these bacteria. This means there is no need to break it down before it can be used as energy – unlike almost all other foods. As soon as sugar comes into contact with Streptococcus mutans it can be absorbed by the cells and metabolized, which means it produces acid. This acid dissolves the tooth enamel which damages our teeth. More sugar means Streptococcus mutans produces more acid, and reproduce rapidly, which means there are more Streptococcus mutans to produce more acid etc.

So, sugar directly doesn’t actually damage your teeth, its the bacteria in your mouth which causes the damage when they are fed too much sugar!

Sugary drinks are much worse than foods because the sugar is in liquid form, which makes it much more accessible and easier to absorb than sugar in foods.

The obvious thing to do to stop this, is stop drinking/ eating sugary foods and make sure you brush your teeth – this controls the growth and acid production potential of Streptococcus mutans. But, as we now know that it is a bacteria which causes tooth decay and not directly sugar, anything which causes a population/ metabolism boom of these bacteria can cause tooth decay – not just sugar. This can be caused by a number of things, including a naturally occurring imbalance of bacteria in your mouth.

Aside from brushing your teeth, drinking green tea and consuming turmeric have also been shown inhibit the growth of these bacteria, which can help protect against tooth decay. Just another benefit of green tea and turmeric!

You can read more about these benefits of these herbs here: green tea and turmeric.

Image courtesy of jayangel

I hope you enjoy the site, and like what we have worked hard to create, any feedback is very much welcome, after all this site is for you! Graduate of Nutrition & Food Science (Bsc) at Reading Uni.
    • Bradley Jones

      Hi Craig.
      You seem like a down to earth, fairly open-minded person. I have heard recently that teeth, given your body gets the correct vitamins/supplements/compounds or whatever, they will regrow and we can heal cavities or damaged teeth. I’ve even read reports about people with pretty rotten teeth, too scared to have it removed or drilled out, douse it in colloidal silver until it eventually healed and no longer needed drilling etc. I’m not sold on colloidal silver as a supplement so much, but its more than once i’ve come upon someone using it topically on the tooth with success.
      I am more so interested in increasing the bodies calcium and phosphorous in the correct glands around the mouth to encourage the “regrowth” of the tooth. Some popular things i’ve found are FermentedCLO and ‘white cheese’ both sound plausible to me.
      Would love to hear your point of view on it, it by all means seems and sounds very plausible.

      Hope to hear from you

      Bradley (

      • Hi Bradley,

        As far as I understand it, colloidal silver is just tiny particles of silver in water. Silver has no role in the human body, and even its antibacterial properties are questioned. From what I’ve read about colloidal silver, its health claims are bogus, and it should be avoided. Its sold as one of these ‘cure-alls’, and there is a lot of false information about its benefits out there.

        With regards to tooth re-mineralisation – there is lots of anecdotal evidence out there saying that fermented cod liver oil with butter oil has helped people to re-mineralise their teeth, but I haven’t seen any clinical trials to confirm this. Anecdotal evidence isn’t to be ignored, but without the controlled environments of trials there is nothing to say you will have the same experience as others. There are so many additional variables such as ages, sex, diet, cause of decay and genetics which can affect results.

        Hope this helps


    The Health Cloud was created in December 2011 by Craig and Morg who have been friends since high school. Our focus is to educate our readers with unbiased health articles and on the side we run our own online health shop. This website is for you, so drop us a comment or send us a tweet, we always take the time to reply!