Watch Your Mouth
Dear Tooth Truth,
Every time I go to the dentist, I feel like they find new cavities. I’m trying to brush and floss well but I’m super frustrated that I keep getting decay! Is there something I’m missing?
Sodas 4 Life
To recognize National Nutrition Month, Lee Dental Centers encourages you to Watch Your Mouth!
Your body is a fine-tuned machine, and your mouth is an integral part of your body. One of the biggest threats to the health and strength of your teeth is acidic attack. Acids break down the hard enamel coating that protects your teeth, leading to an increase in cavities and weaker teeth that wear down and fracture faster. Acid can come from the following sources:
- Internally through acid reflux. With acid reflux our teeth are exposed to highly acidic gut acids that break down the hard enamel matrix protecting our teeth. If your dentist suspects that reflux might be contributing to enamel breakdown, they will encourage you to consult your physician for recommendations on managing reflux.
- Externally through foods and beverages that are highly acidic. The following chart shows the acidity of commonly consumed beverages.
- Combined attack when bacteria that naturally live in our mouth are activated by carbohydrates and sugar to produce acid. When these cavity-causing bacteria consume carbs and sugar their by-product is an acid that breaks down your teeth. If you have a sweet tooth and like candies or sugary treats or if you or your child tend to snack on high carbohydrate snacks, you are at risk of this type of attack.
Acid in the mouth lowers the pH and creates an environment where enamel breakdown occurs. Our saliva helps to buffer acids in the mouth and minimize their detrimental effects. If you have a dry mouth or reduced salivary flow, your body is not as well equipped to neutralize acid attack. You need to be especially diligent in watching your intake of acidic foods and beverages, drink plenty of water to help keep the mouth moist, and rinse debris from the teeth.
Does Brushing Really Make a Difference?
When you aren’t thorough at cleaning the surfaces of your teeth you can build up colonies of bacteria in a sticky substance known as plaque. When millions of bacteria cluster together on your tooth surface, they can cause decay and gum disease. You should brush well twice a day and pay extra attention to that nighttime brushing. Overnight, our salivary flow slows down and all that bacteria can do a lot more damage. Chewing sugar-free or xylitol gum after meals helps remove small particles of food and minimize plaque build-up.
I heard sugar was bad, so I switched to diet sodas.
You’re making a good choice by lowering your sugar intake, but you may be surprised to hear that the 4th ingredient listed in a Diet Coke is phosphoric ACID. Diet sodas still bathe the teeth in acid that causes the enamel to dissolve. In soda drinkers, we will often see a chalky, white pattern around the gumline of the teeth (especially the lower teeth). These are areas where the enamel is softened and can quickly turn to serious decay.
I don’t let my kids drink soda, but they love sports drinks.
Sports drinks are a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Marketing them as a healthy, “sporty” alternative has given us all a false sense of well-being when we regularly consume these beverages. As shown in the chart below, most of these drinks are full of sugar, are highly acidic, and should be avoided unless you are really depleted and in need of the additional electrolytes. Water is a winner when it comes to healthy hydration!
This month we hope you will have fresh eyes for the things you are choosing to eat and drink. Healthy foods and plenty of water will keep your teeth strong. When you Watch Your Mouth, you can’t help but feel better!