Cute little girl covering mouth with hands, on color background

Look out! It’s the sugar bugs! Okay, the name doesn’t exactly spark fear like “murder hornets” does, but sugar bugs in teeth are definitely something you want to avoid. So, what exactly are sugar bugs and why are they such a problem? 

What Are Sugar Bugs?

Despite the kiddish name, sugar bugs on teeth are no joke. The term refers to pockets of plaque buildup on your teeth and gums that cause tooth decay. Sugar bugs are caused by eating starchy or sugary foods; the leftover residue from these foods builds up easily and creates spots of accelerated tooth decay. 

Without any intervention, sugar bugs cause cavities, which will require fillings to avoid further decay and infection. So if these sugar bugs are this problematic, how can you avoid them? 

Brushing and Flossing

The primary way to avoid sugar bug dental issues is to consistently brush and floss your teeth. This means using a toothbrush and toothpaste and taking your time to thoroughly clean your teeth at least twice per day, ideally after every meal. You should also be flossing your teeth every day to avoid sugar bugs that lead to cavities between the teeth and gum recession. 

Avoid Sugary or Acidic Foods

While you shouldn’t feel bad for treating yourself to a tasty treat every now and then, it’s important to avoid sugary foods like candy, along with starchy foods like white bread. These foods have a high potential to leave sugar bugs in your mouth and cause tooth decay. 

Not only does the residue sit and cause bacteria buildup, it also triggers your mouth to continue producing acid. When you eat, your mouth increases its acidity to begin the digestion process, but if you have pockets of food leftover, your mouth won’t fully return to its normal Ph levels. When you do treat yourself with these foods, it’s always best to brush your teeth soon after. 

Similarly, acidic foods, like spicy foods or coffee, will also make your teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay. 

Get Braces or Invisalign

Aside from the actual foods that cause sugar bugs, one of the main culprits of tooth decay is crowding. When your teeth aren’t properly spaced apart and are crooked, it creates more pockets for food to get stuck in. So, even if you put in a good amount of effort in cleaning your teeth, you may still end up with sugar bugs and cavities. When you get your teeth straightened with Invisalign or braces, there will be fewer spots for food to get trapped. This makes it easier to clean your teeth and reduces your chances of tooth decay. 

Straightening your teeth also improves your bite, evening out pressure in your mouth and helping you avoid instances of wear. It’s important to note that during your time with braces, you’ll need to be extra on top of cleaning your teeth since food can end up getting trapped around the brackets and under the wires. 

To learn more about how braces can help improve your oral health and to see if orthodontic treatment is right for you, schedule your free consultation with Charleston Orthodontic Specialists today!