At Smiles by Shields, we see several patients at the start of the new year whose teeth are aching after over-consumption of candy and more bacteria-feeding sugar than many of us normally allow in our diet. The good news is that teeth are sturdy and as long as you’re brushing 20-40 minutes after sugary or starchy foods, you may sail through the holidays without dental damage.
When sugars or starches in your mouth come in contact with plaque, the acids that result can attack teeth for 20 minutes or more after you finish eating. Repeated attacks can break down the hard enamel on the surface of teeth, leading to tooth decay. Plaque also produces toxins that attack the gums and bone supporting the teeth.
Instead of rushing to brush immediately after sugary foods, try drinking water for 20 minutes or chewing sugar-free gum. This stimulates saliva production, which has a neutralizing effect on acid. That’s because saliva naturally contains bicarbonate, which neutralizes acid, as well as calcium and phosphate which help to “re-mineralize” the tooth’s enamel.
With the proper foods to eat and to avoid as well as regular visits to Smiles by Shields, you can combat the onslaught of sugar with proactive dental care.