Do you have a sweet tooth? Join the club! For many of our patients at Excellence in Dentistry in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, it’s just not realistic to recommend avoiding sugary treats. It seems each month brings holidays, birthdays, graduations, vacations or other celebrations and along with them sweet treats!
Routinely eating sweet foods can lead to periodontal disease and tooth decay. Sugary foods leave a residue that naturally occuring bacteria in your mouth love to feed upon. When these plaque-forming bacteria in your saliva come in contact with sugar, an acid is produced that causes damage to the teeth. The acid levels in your mouth can remain elevated for twenty minutes or more, during which time the acid begins to eat into the enamel of your teeth, creating dental caries, also known as cavities. Brushing your teeth following sugar treats stops this process.
However, when you don't brush after eating sugary foods, these bacteria turn into plaque that irritates your gums and can eventually lead to swelling and even bleeding. As the plaque begins to accumulate, it will lead to the formation of tartar. Tartar left on the teeth will start to cause your gums to pull away from your teeth, which in turn allows bacteria to creep deeper below the gum line and into the jawbone. This process eventually can lead to the development of gum disease and an increased number of cavities in the teeth.
If you want to reduce your risk of tooth decay and still enjoy sugary treats, you should:
- Eat your sweet treats with your meals. The saliva produced while eating a meal neutralizes acid production and decreases the number of cavities that can form in your mouth.
- Don’t snack on sweets between meals. If you do eat sugary snacks between meals, be sure to brush your teeth as soon as you are able in order to prevent tooth decay.
- Be sure to brush your teeth at least two times per day to eliminate decay-forming acid in your mouth. Be sure to floss a minimum of least once per day to keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Be sure to visit your dentist in Fort Lauderdale routinely. During your routine dental cleaning, your dental hygienist is able to remove plaque and tartar buildup that brushing alone can not.
- Limit the amount of sugar you consume to one time per day. Have your treats for dessert after a meal. Be conscious of what you eat and when you eat it. Regularly eating sugary foods keeps a continued level of acid forming in your mouth and sets up the perfect environment for cavities to develop in the mouth.
The type of treat you choose is as important as when you eat it. Sticky candies, like gummy bears or taffy, stay on your teeth for a long time and are especially hard to get out from between your teeth. Hard candies that you suck for an extended time, like mints or cough drops, give bacteria a perfect environment to create dangerous enamel-weakening acids.
Dr. Gerard Wasselle and Dr. Nancy Rotroff at Excellence in Dentistry in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, are here for all of your family's dental needs. We recommend scheduling your dental exam and cleaning at least twice per year. Your dental cleaning will keep your teeth free of plaque and tartar and your dental exam will help detect any problems early so they can be addressed and remedied keeping your mouth and you healthy. Call our office at 954-928-1666.