This is perhaps not the blog post you would expect to see on a dental office’s web page. We here at Stephens Dentistry love our candy and sugary foods. We thought we’d pass on some tips to help you enjoy a sugary treat while keeping your teeth healthy this Halloween season.
Why Sugar is Harmful to Your Teeth
Believe it or not, sugar itself is not bad for your teeth. But the bacteria in your mouth, including streptococcus mutans, eat sugar from your foods and produce acid. The increase in the acidity of your mouth causes your teeth to demineralize faster than your saliva can remineralize them. In this case, cavities begin to form.
How to Minimize Damage from Sugars
One of the best ways to minimize damage from sugars is to consume less sugar, but sometimes your sweet tooth wins out. In this case here are some helpful tips to minimize the damages from sugar and to help keep your teeth healthy:
- Don’t snack on candy throughout the day. Eat your candy for the day in one sitting. This gives your mouth time to recover from the increased acidity and then begin the remineralization process to heal your teeth.
- Don’t brush your teeth right after eating candy. Your bacteria have already begun the process of producing acid. This acidic environment softens your enamel and brushing your teeth at this time can cause erosion to occur. Instead, wait about a half hour for the pH in your mouth to return to normal before you brush.
- Don’t drink soda pop directly after or while eating candy. Soda pop is just as sugary as candy and just adds to the acidity in your mouth. Take a break between your treats.
- Chew xylitol gum after eating candy. Xylitol gum helps return the pH in your mouth to normal in several ways. First it increases the saliva flow in your mouth to dilute the acid produced by the bacteria. Secondly the bacteria are not able to metabolize xylitol and instead of producing acid, they starve to death.
Sugar doesn’t have to be the enemy of your teeth. Enjoy a nice treat sometimes, but as with all things, moderation is best. We hope these tips help keep your sweet tooth satisfied, and the rest of your teeth healthy. From everyone at our Evanston dental office, have a safe and happy Halloween!