It’s almost Halloween time! The time of year when children get to dress up and collect all the candy they can eat! As exciting as this is for the kids, it’s our responsibility to protect the teeth from cavities with proper dental care.
Even though candy is great in the short term, constant tooth pain isn’t so great in the long term. In the war against sugar, knowledge is power, and that’s why its important to understand what sugar is, how it interacts with our teeth and what you can do to enjoy sugar without it damaging your teeth.
What is Sugar?
Sugar is a general name for a variety of carbohydrates with a sweet taste made of Hydrogen, Carbon and Oxygen atoms. You may have heard of several different types of sugars including glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, lactose or galactose. Sugar can be found in the tissue of many plants, but the sugar found in food usually comes from sugarcane or sugar beet plants.
Sugarcane and sugar beet plants grow in tropical regions and require workers, machinery and factories to grow, harvest, extract and ship the sugar all over the world where it ultimately ends up in soft drinks, candies, coffee, tea, pasta sauce, bread, cereal, canned fruit, barbecue sauce and many other foods.
How does it affect the teeth?
Sugar feeds the bacteria inside your mouth that cause plaque, giving them a source of energy and making them more difficult to remove from the surface of your teeth. Some bacteria use sugar to create an adhesive that actually works like glue, so they cannot be washed away by saliva and swallowing.
The plaque and bacteria produce acids that dissolve the protective enamel that coats your teeth, causing irreversible damage. Plaque that is not removed by brushing or flossing continues to accumulate and form a substance called tartar. Tartar is hard like the surface of your teeth and collects at the gum line. The ugly yellow or brown substance can only be removed by a dentist, and until it is removed, it will continue to attract more bacteria, more plaque, and cause more damage such as gum inflammation or infection.
It is very important not the feed these harmful bacteria, because it can lead to all sorts of avoidable dental issues!
What can you do to minimize the damage from sugar?
Sugar is everywhere. Although you may try to avoid it, it is in just about everything. Thankfully, you don’t have to cut out sugar from your diet altogether, as long as practice healthy dental habits like these:
Brush twice a day. Brushing correctly twice every day with a soft toothbrush will dramatically reduce the harm from sugar by removing plaque and bacteria from your teeth. Additional brushing after meals or consuming sugary snacks is even better. Toothpaste with fluoride or baking soda can also make a big difference.
Floss twice a day, preferably before brushing. Flossing twice every day, or at least at night, helps to extract the food particles, plaque and tartar that gets wedged between the teeth. Then your toothbrush can brush all of that away. The bacteria that feed on sugar are lurking in between your teeth and need to be removed every day.
Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily and a full 18.5% don’t floss at all. If you aren’t flossing, you aren’t taking proper care of your teeth. So floss after every meal, especially if your meal consists of only candy from your trick-or-treat bag.
Not only should you practice healthy dental habits, but you should also schedule regular teeth cleanings to check for cavities and plaque.
Time for a Check Up at Sunrise Dental!
If you or someone in your family has a cavity or sensitivity in their teeth from eating sugar, call your closest Sunrise Dental location today to schedule an appointment or request an appointment online.