At Smiles by Shields, we know this time of year ushers in more candy and more bacteria-feeding sugar than many of us normally allow in our diet. If you’ve been trained to brush immediately after every treat like Halloween candy, we’ve got news: brushing too soon after a highly acidic or sugary meal can actually cause additional damage to teeth, the enamel of which is softened immediately following contact with “bad” food. We recommend waiting 20 to 40 minutes before whipping out a toothbrush.
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.
But if starch, acid and sugar (along with overenthusiastic brushing!) are tooth killers, what can we provide in place of them? Overall, look for items that stimulate 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.