We all know that eating excessive amounts of sugar can lead to tooth decay but few of us know that it's not the sugar itself that causes damage but the series of events that take place after we've wolfed down our favourite sweet treat.
The mouth is choc-a-block (pun intended) full of bacteria, many of which are beneficial to us. However certain types of bacteria in your mouth can be harmful when they are constantly presented (again pun intended) with sugar. When bacteria feeds off sugar an acid is created in your mouth that can destroy enamel (the shiny, protective outer layer of your teeth). This acid can create holes in your teeth (cavities), and initiate a process called demineralisation where the acid in your mouth leeches minerals from the enamel in your teeth. If not treated cavities can progress beyond the enamel towards deeper layers of your teeth. It is this progression that leads to pain, and eventually tooth loss.
Your mouth is armed with ways to reverse the process of demineralisation, and saliva especially can be considered as the strongest natural armor in the reversal process. Saliva contains minerals such as calcium and phosphates that help repair the teeth. Brushing your teeth twice a day with an approved flouride toothpaste (such as Colgate Total) can help, as flouride cleans out sugar dependent germs for up to 12 hours.
We hear you. Valentine's day is coming up and your better half may be expecting the age old Valentine gifts, namely flowers, chocolate and a romantic meal. Here are some tips that can promote your loved one's dental health this Valentine's Day:
1. If you must buy your loved one sugary treats ask yourself the following questions:
i. Is the treat loaded with sugar? If the answer is yes, make sure the treat is eaten as part of a meal, rather than as a stand alone snack. Other foods and beverages help prevent sugar from clinging to the inside of the mouth. Also accompany sugary gifts with a packet of sugar free chewing gum. Chewing sugarless gum helps with the process of salivation which as mentioned above helps reverse the process of demineralisation.
ii. Will the sugary treat stick to my loved one's teeth? Avoid sticky treats such as liquorice and opt instead for non-sticky treats. So choose chocolate as opposed to toffee or caramel, and grapes as opposed to raisins.
iii. How long will the treat stay in my loved one's mouth? Lollipops and hard candies are held in the mouth for long periods of time. Opt instead for treats that can be chewed and swallowed promptly.
2. When you take your loved one out for that romantic meal encourage him or her to order a side of fibrous vegetables or a dessert that contains lots of fibrous fruits. Better yet skip desert altogether and head for the cheese platter. Cheese, yogurt and other dairy products contain calcium and phosphates that strengthen teeth, and are much healthier alternatives when compared to sugary treats.
3. Invest in a love-heart shaped cookie cutter: most kitchen-supply stores stock stainless steel cookie cutters in a variety of shapes and sizes. Make your loved one a healthy love heart shaped snack using your cookie cutter. Might we suggest a tastey Turkey Sandwich or a juicy love heart shaped slice of water melon? Yes please.
4. Show your loved one your nuts about them: Buy a bag of peanuts, macadamia or mixed nuts and buy a blank card. Nuts are tooth friendly in the sense that they are low in sugar and high in protein. In the blank card write the note "I'm nuts about you" and attach it to the bag of nuts.
We hope you have a Happy Valentine's day. If in doubt as to whether you're Valentine's treats will lead to tooth decay call us on 020 44 00 622 or 0711 279 035 to book a cleaning appointment today.
From the team at Smile Studio...with love.