The Halloween treats come out as soon as September to tempt the kiddies (and kiddies at heart) as you walk through the supermarket. Who can resist those bite-sized morsels that only come out once a year? If you manage to make it out of the store, without some candy landing in your cart, you still have to navigate the parties at school, work, church, in the community, and among friends. Through it all, you are bombarded by delectable treats and sugary drinks.
However, all that sugar can take a toll on your teeth. While we would never tell you to skip the fun, here are some tips on protecting your teeth throughout the festivities.
Why Is Sugar Harmful To Your Teeth?
It helps to understand the role sugar plays in tooth decay. Our mouths are home to 700 different microbes, including bacteria, fungi, and other germs. Many of them are helpful, aiding in food digestion and fighting disease-causing microbes you may ingest or inhale. They keep other damaging microbes in balance. A healthy balance in your mouth protects your teeth, gives your breath a neutral odor and prevents gum disease and infection.
The harmful bacteria love sugar, however. In addition to providing energy for the bacteria, it creates an acid that eats through tooth enamel (the hard outer layer of the tooth). It allows you to eat crunchy foods or indulge in hot or cold beverages without pain.
As the tooth enamel wears away, teeth become sensitive to pressure and temperature changes. Cavities and crevasses harbor more and more bacteria that your toothbrush can’t reach, weakening the tooth structure and making it more prone to breakage.
Harmful bacteria growth also creates a film on teeth called plaque. The plaque hardens to protect the bacteria while it eats your teeth and breaks down gum tissue. The resulting gum disease can be painful. It makes it hard to chew and can lead to dangerous infections. You can even lose your teeth.
Want The Good News?
The good news is that all of those harmful processes take time. Proper tooth care can rid your mouth of harmful bacteria, plaque, and microbes before they have a chance to become troublesome. A good oral care routine includes:
Flossing: Daily gentle but thorough flossing between all teeth clears food debris and bacteria hiding between the teeth and under the gum line.
Brushing: To break down plaque trying to harden against your teeth and rid them of food debris, acid, and harmful bacteria, it’s important to brush your teeth at least twice daily. We recommend a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. (Fluoride can help repair damaged enamel.) Brush for two minutes, and don’t forget the gum line where bacteria hide between the gum and tooth surface.
Scraping: Using a tongue scraper will remove food debris, bacteria, and dead cells from the tongue’s surface. It will remove that bad-tasting film that grows on the tongue, improve your ability to distinguish varying flavors, improve breath odor, and help your body fight disease-causing bacteria.
Mouthwash Gargling: A good swish and gargle session can clear away any remaining food or bacteria, making fresh breath last longer.
Cleaning: Atlanta area dental care services providers can perform deep cleanings beyond what you do at home. For a healthy mouth, schedule a dentist appointment twice a year.
What Do I Do When I Want A Sweet Snack?
We like a sweet treat from time to time, and we know you do too. So, here are some tips to protect your teeth while still indulging a little.
Timing: Eating sweets directly after a meal when the mouth is flooded with saliva will help wash some of the sugar right past your teeth.
Water: Drinking water often throughout meals and after eating sweets will rinse the sugar away from your teeth. If you’re away from the house and your toothbrush, it’s especially important to rinse the sugar away before continuing with your day.
Drinking water also helps to avoid plaque buildup throughout the day. It’s wise to avoid sugary drinks or to drink water afterward as you would after eating other holiday treats.
Treat Choice: The gooier the treat, the more it gets stuck in cracks and corners of your mouth, making it hard to brush away. It can also pull out loose fillings if it’s sticky enough.
Balance: If you know you’ll have an evening full of treats, try eating healthier before and after. Munching on fresh fruits and vegetables is not only a healthy dietary choice, but it can help remove bacteria and sugar from tooth surfaces.
Sugar can damage your smile if left to sit on your teeth and gums, but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on your favorite holidays. Forewarned about what sugar can do and how it works with your body, you can plan and safeguard your teeth while still enjoying the festivities.