It is officially the end of the year, which means it is time for season’s greetings and season’s eatings. That latter December tradition is what Dental Arts Group wants people to look out for during the holidays. While gingerbread houses, frosted sugar cookies, and stocking-stuffer candies are okay to eat, Dental Hygienist Kathy Uzelac has some tips to protect against the negative effects sugar consumption can have on your teeth.
Perhaps the most obvious tip is to limit sugar consumption. Limiting the amount as well as the time of sugar consumption will certainly help protect your teeth from decay.
“Every time you eat something with sugar in it, you get 20 minutes of acid production,” she said. “If you say, ‘Well, I only had one Coke,’ but you sipped on it all day, that’s acid all day long. That’s really the important thing that people need to understand. You could eat a pound of M&M’s right now, and you would get 20 minutes of acid. I’m not going to say what that will do to your waistline, but for your teeth, you’ll get 20 minutes of acid. If you eat that same amount, but just an M&M every few minutes over the day, that destroys your teeth.”
What causes tooth decay is oral bacteria, and oral bacteria is plaque that feeds on sugars, starches, and carbohydrates. Thus, limiting the time of sugar intake limits the time plaque can feed on the sugar. Uzelac said you should also treat healthy sugars the same way as you would a candy bar and try to limit the time spent consuming sugar.
An alternative to sugar that doesn’t harm your teeth is artificial sweeteners and sugar-free gum and mints. Sugar-free gum and mints can actually increase salivation, which can help neutralize the acid inside the mouth.
Regardless of sugar intake or the use of sugar substitutes, Uzelac said people should brush and floss their teeth every single day. Brushing and flossing is especially important before bed because when you sleep, your saliva production drops, so plaque is not being neutralized by saliva to the extent it is during the day.
A few of Uzelac’s favorite products to keep teeth healthy is ACT Fluoride Rinse, any toothpaste with fluoride, and Plackers dental floss picks. She said fluoride is the main ingredient that people should search for in their dental hygiene products because fluoride makes enamel harder and less susceptible to tooth decay.
Of course, regular checkups are recommended in addition to personal dental hygiene routines as there are some procedures that only the professionals can do. One such procedure involves putting pit and fissure sealants on teeth, which is a procedure dentists mainly perform on children.
“A sealant is a plastic that we float out into the biting surface up the tube and seals up a channel that is on the biting surface of the back teeth,” Uzelac said. “You can’t even fit one bristle from a toothbrush into that, so over time, bacteria and other things get down in there and cause decay. We put sealants in there to seal it up so that doesn’t happen.”
To learn more about the procedures performed at Dental Arts Group as well as their recommendations for personal dental hygiene routines, visit https://www.dentalartsgroup.com/or call (219) 464-8532.