Do your Eating Habits Affect the Health of your Teeth?
With Halloween right around the corner, it seems like we are constantly snacking on sweets both at home and at work. Our first concern may be packing on a few extra pounds, but all of this snacking can put you at a higher risk for tooth decay. Hopefully we can share a few helpful hints to reduce the possibility of developing cavities during this time and throughout the year.
Plaque is a term we use to refer to a sticky film of bacteria that adheres to your teeth. It forms as a result of different bacteria attaching to your teeth after eating or drinking. If you do not properly clean all surfaces of your teeth, the plaque bacteria use the sugar we ingest to make acid. This acid attacks the enamel for up to 20 minutes after consuming sugar filled food or drinks. So if you eat or drink throughout the day over the course of a few weeks or months, your teeth are exposed to acid attacks over and over. These repeated attacks often result in tooth decay and the need for intervention by the dentist.
So how can you reduce your risk of tooth decay? Below are a few easy things to remember that can limit the possibility of developing cavities:
- Limit sugary snacks and drinks between meals. This includes energy drinks and sports drinks.
- When you do have sugary snacks and drinks, try to have them with your meals and not throughout the day or during snacking.
- Chewing sugar free gum or gum with xylitol for 20 minutes after meals has been shown to reduce tooth decay. This doesn’t mean you can substitute gum for your normal brushing.
- Drinking tap water throughout the day can help prevent tooth decay because it contains fluoride and can help rinse away any sugary drinks.
- See your dentist regularly. They can help personalize a plan to limit your risk of decay. And if you do develop a cavity, they can help find in early.