Tis the season for sugar, sweets and growing waistlines. If you’re anything like me, avoiding all the goodies around you during the holidays is extremely hard. Snacking on holiday treats and sweets can be hard on your waistline, but all that sugar also takes a toll on your teeth.
Avoiding sugar is hard; sugar is in most foods we eat, including in everyday foods that you wouldn’t even think had sugar. Mints, cough drops, coffee, gum — tons of foods that we snack on contain sugar. We have to be careful eating these foods all day long because when we eat them, they release sugar into our mouths and start the cavity process.
What is the cavity process?
The cavity process, or caries process, starts with sugar. When food enters our mouth it breaks down. Most foods are made of sugar, so when foods break down, the pH or acidity of the mouth goes down. When the pH goes down the mouth becomes an acidic environment, and the enamel of the teeth starts to break down.
Once our tooth enamel starts to break down, the enamel cannot come back. This is why it’s imperative that we brush after we eat to stop the acid from eroding our teeth. Brushing helps bring the pH of our mouth back to a neutral level.
After we eat it takes about 20 minutes for our mouths to go back to a neutral environment. This is why snacking throughout the day can be very harmful for our teeth. The more often that we eat, the more often there are acids in our mouth wreaking havoc on our teeth and tissues.
So how can you stop the cavity process?
Brushing after you eat is a great way to stop the cavity process and revert your mouth back to a neutral environment. Another way to keep your teeth away from the acids throughout the day is to snack on sugar-free foods. Xylitol gum is sugar free and won’t convert your mouth to an acidic environment. Snacking on vegetables helps keep the acids away.
Staying away from sugars completely is hard and not practical at all, so brush after you eat, consume all your food at one time and don’t snack throughout the entire day. Swish with water after eating to help your mouth get back to that happy neutral pH.
In the upcoming New Year to keep my teeth heathy, I’m going to focus on eating foods that have less sugar. Not only will I eat foods with less sugar, but I will also work on my frequency of eating so that I can keep the pH of my mouth neutral and free of any acidity.
If you have questions about some good alternatives to sugary drinks and foods, ask us the next time you’re in the Schumacher & Bauer office for your regular preventative cleaning. We’re always happy to share our tips on cutting a bit back on sugar to keep teeth nice and healthy.
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