It’s been several weeks since Halloween but you probably still have heaps of lollies left over from trick-or-treating. Chances are the kids have been feasting on them every day since and the sugar rush must be driving you crazy, you end up having some yourself! And horror of horrors, just think about what those little sweet treats do to your and your children’s teeth? Like a spooky ghost story, does the mere thought of it bring shivers down your spine?
We all know eating too much sugar may cause tooth decay, particularly among children since majority of them have a sweet tooth. But, is sugar really the main culprit? You’d be surprised to know that it’s not the sugar itself that causes tooth damage, but what happens right after eating or drinking it.
The good, the bad, and the ugly
Our mouth houses several hundred different types of bacteria and at any given time, we could have thousands or millions of them living on the surface of each tooth. Most of these are actually good bacteria that help prevent diseases. These good bacteria are like soldiers on a battlefield, ever ready to fight against disease-producing germs that try to come through our mouth. They’re our first line of defence against harmful microbes that may try to attack our immune system.
Unfortunately, bad bacteria are also present in our mouth. They sit waiting to strike at the first opportunity when we consume sugars and carbohydrates. Bad bacteria consume and turn carbohydrates into acids and enzymes. The ugly truth about acids and enzymes is that they dissolve the tooth enamel – that protective substance covering our tooth – causing tooth decay. Over time, they filter into the tooth destroying the ligaments and bone holding it in place, resulting in pain, infection, and ultimately potential tooth loss.
How to prevent tooth decay and loss
Sugar intake puts bad bacteria into overdrive causing acid attack that destroys our teeth. The more we consume food and drinks with high sugar content, the more susceptible we are to tooth decay. It goes without saying then that consuming food and drinks that are low in sugar promotes good oral health.
But kids do love their lollies and cakes and ice creams, right? Well, sugary treats are okay from time to time and in moderation. You do need to arm yourself with these important tips to keep your family’s teeth strong, healthy and decay-free:
- Brush teeth regularly using toothpaste with fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay. Remember to spit, not rinse! Fluoride in toothpaste helps protect and repair your teeth.
- Floss regularly, and clean in between your teeth to remove plaque where bad bacteria flourish and to prevent gum diseases.
- Avoid eating sweets and sugary drinks after brushing your teeth at night, as bacterial acid attack will last overnight.
- Drink plenty of tap water after consuming sugary food to rinse off harmful cavity-producing bacteria.
- Visit your dentist or oral health therapist regularly to check for any signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and lumps and bumps like oral cancer.
Practicing good oral hygiene is the key to keeping the ghost of Halloween past away and the acid-forming bacteria at bay. Regular visits to your dental professional for cleaning and routine check-up will also prevent future dental