Quick: what causes cavities? Sugar, right? Well, yes, but that isn’t all there is to it. Your mouth is a complicated ecosystem that interacts with the outside world on a daily basis, constantly throwing it off balance. Making the right choices for its health go far beyond simply limiting sugar intake.
At Panama City Smiles we’re all too aware of the epidemic of tooth decay in the world today. While a lot has been done to help limit the spread of cavities there have also been a lot of ways it has been encouraged by the things we eat and drink. Even sugar-free products are still dangerous!
Cavities: The Root Cause
Yes, sugar is the biggest source of tooth decay but it doesn’t do it alone. Sugar is metabolized by the bacteria that live in your mouth. Just like us they absolutely love it. When they get through devouring it for energy the excrete acids that destroy your enamel. It’s a slow process, but over time you can end up with tiny holes that are very inviting to bacteria. They get in, metabolize more sugar, and that cavity just keeps getting bigger.
So it isn’t sugar that really destroys your teeth: it’s the acid that it gets transformed into. That means we need to look beyond sugar to truly prevent cavities – even sugar-free foods and drinks put your mouth at serious risk!
The Sugar-Free Risk
A lot of sugar-free products, especially drinks, can cause serious damage to your teeth because of higher levels of acid. Some of the worst culprits are things like sports drinks, sodas, and even flavored waters, all of which have different acids added as part of their flavor.
Any kind of acid that makes contact with your teeth is a danger. Like the acid production by oral bacteria, these acids have the same ability to erode your enamel, effectively acting as a boost to the normal acid production caused by bacteria! When you have an acidic drink along with a sweet food you’re doing double damage to your teeth. Not a great thought!
What Can You Do?
While we’re always going to recommend regular six-month dental checkups you can’t simply stop caring about your teeth when you’re not at our office. It’s essential to practice good oral health habits at home so that you can keep yourself in good shape the other 363 days of the year.
For starters, make sure you’re brushing twice a day and flossing in the evening. It’s essential to clear away bacteria from your mouth to stop it from building up and causing more damage. Like it or not, flossing is truly essential. It gets bacteria and food particles out of those hard-to-reach places that bacteria just love to hide in.
While we’d love to tell you to stop drinking sports drinks, orange juice, and sodas it isn’t always practical to give up the things you love completely. Moderating your intake of acidic non-sugar (and sugary) foods and drinks can be a key to maintaining your oral health.
It’s also common for people who eat a lot of sugar or have an acidic drink to want to brush their teeth right away. It might surprise you, but this is a horrible thing to do to your teeth! One of the ways acids erode your teeth is by softening your enamel. This softening effect lasts for 30 minutes to an hour, making the time after sugar and acids the most vulnerable time for your teeth. Always wait to brush and floss after eating sugary foods! We recommend just drinking some water – it’s great at flushing away bacteria, food particles, and acids.
Make The Choice For Good Oral Health
Protecting your teeth is a conscious choice that you need to make. It isn’t enough to simply give your teeth a quick scrub in the evening before bed. Just like taking care of the rest of your body, your teeth have certain requirements that need to be met in order to stay healthy.
We want to be your home base for good oral health care and the proper knowledge to keep your teeth safe from the dangers of tooth decay and gum disease. If you have any questions about your oral health don’t hesitate to call Panama City Smiles today!