3 Dental Tricks to Keep Teeth Treat-Safe this Fall
Posted: Oct 28, 2021 in
It is that time again when pantries are well stocked with Halloween treats (if you haven’t cracked them open already). But let’s be honest. Long after the last doorbell has rung and the final goblin, superhero or broomstick-carrying cutie has vanished into the night, bowls of candy will likely be kicking around for days, or several weeks, afterwards.
We have all heard that sugar is bad for your teeth but acid is the real monster lurking around your teeth and gums. So why does sugar have such a fearsome reputation? Your mouth has dozens of perfectly normal bacteria which are nothing to be startled about. However, some bacteria, particularly Streptococcus mutants or S.mutans, are commonly associated with tooth decay.
Remember Gremlins? Feeding this bacteria with sugar is a little like feeding gremlins after midnight; that is when things get a little wild. Potentially harmful bacteria like S.mutans metabolize sugars such as fructose and sucrose and create acid in your oral cavity. This acid wears against tooth enamel. Enamel is mineralized by compounds such as calcium and phosphate and is also one of the strongest substances in your body but enamel is not invincible. The acid created by sugar and carbohydrate-loving bacteria, causes your tooth enamel to be demineralized and weakened over time. If not checked, it can result in tooth decay.
The battle against tooth decay doesn’t have to be frightening. Here are a few practical tricks to keep those sticky, sugary treats from creating a scary scene in your mouth.
1. CHOOSE ONE TIME A DAY TO INDULGE IN A SWEET TREAT
Keeping a healthy pH level in your mouth is key to preventing an acid attack on your teeth. Fortunately, your saliva is constantly working to counteract the effects of acid and naturally remineralize your enamel. You just need to give it time and space to neutralize the acids and restore the pH balance in your mouth. In addition to washing away acidic conditions, your saliva is mineral-rich with calcium and phosphate to replenish the mineral content of your tooth enamel and restore its strength.
If you or your child is regularly snacking on sugary sweets throughout the day, you may be tipping the scales against your oral cavity’s natural defences to combat acidic conditions and remineralize your teeth. Saving a treat for just one time in the day and minimizing the sugar in your diet overall is a great strategy to support your oral health. This will help your oral cavity recover from a demineralized, acid state. Grab some sugarless chewing gum, instead of a piece of candy, between meals to encourage your saliva to go to work and make the thought of tooth decay a lot less terrifying this Halloween.
2. DRINK WATER AFTERWARDS
Sugar-free, acid-free, calorie-free water has endless benefits for your whole body and your mouth is no exception. If you have indulged your sweet tooth, the simple act of drinking water can go a long way to dilute harmful acid and wash away food debris. This can be especially beneficial if you don’t have a toothbrush nearby when the candy bowl at the office was just too tempting.
Drinking a glass of water also stimulates saliva production, reducing the impacts of the demineralization process. We all have treats now and then but if you pair those moments up with a water break, your body and your teeth will thank you. Choosing tap water or mineral water is also a smart choice to maximize the remineralization process.
3. FLUORIDE & FLOSS ARE KEY
Keeping a routine of brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily is essential to arming your teeth with the protection needed to remineralize and stay healthy. This is especially important when we have enjoyed a piece or two of sticky sweetness that creates a prime environment for acid-producing bacteria to thrive.
Daily proper use of fluoride toothpaste gives you some extra bacteria-busting defences. When your oral cavity’s pH levels normalize, it creates hydroxyapatite which includes the essential calcium and phosphate ions that remineralize your tooth enamel. However, brushing with fluoride or receiving a fluoride treatment from our Woodcreek Dental office creates fluorapatite, which is less soluble and shields your teeth from demineralization the next time there are acidic conditions present.
More than just removing food particles and bacteria, the daily routine of brushing and flossing keeps plaque from building up as well. You may not always be able to see in a mirror what is lurking
between your teeth so don’t be afraid to hone your flossing techniques and attack that plaque. Plaque is where bacteria get comfortable, producing acid that spreads across the biofilm on your teeth’s surface. Brushing and flossing keep plaque build-up to a minimum and limits the opportunity for bacteria to cause mischief in your mouth.
Don’t Let Dental Decay Creep Up on You
Of course, these tips can be applied throughout the year and not just after the Halloween season is over. A great final tip? Treats freeze really well and putting them in the freezer also keeps them out of sight and out of mind. It’s a great way to not overload your teeth with sugar for weeks on end by choosing a few treats for your family to enjoy for now. It also makes a great pinata stuffer save for a summer party or birthday bash.
If you have concerns around tooth decay and prevention, our SW Calgary Dental Office is happy to connect with you and answer your questions. No one wants a ghoulish smile so keep your oral health routine up throughout the year any time your sweet tooth gets the best of you