Ask the Dentist – Sweet Tooth
So….many of you know that we love to think outside of the proverbial box. At Family Dental Care Park Ridge, this means promotions like Fun Friday where patients that come in for their dental work on Fridays get a delicious individually wrapped chocolate truffle from our neighbor and friend, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Park Ridge! Not only do you get to indulge your sweet tooth with the awesome goodness of the truffle, but you ALSO get a generous coupon to allow yourself to indulge in a sweet experience at their store! Is it any wonder that Friday is our most popular day for appointments???
That said, Scott sent us an email asking about sweets. Scott writes:
“I always thought that we weren’t supposed to have any sweets at all if we wanted to have great teeth. Now I see Family Dental Care Park Ridge giving sweets away! Are you just trying to drum up business? Or is the whole sweets being bad for teeth thing a myth?”
Scott, thanks for your Ask the Dentist question! And, you are so right…all of the temptations with chocolate that we share may, in fact, send a very confusing message. So, in an attempt to make clear the risks of sweets, let’s begin.
When our teeth are cared for properly (and by “properly” I mean brushing no less than twice daily for two minutes each and flossing correctly at least once a day along with at least twice yearly check ups at the dentist) “what” we eat affects our dedication to our oral hygiene routine. Why?
Decay happens when the bacteria in our mouth (and each of us has a certain balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in our mouths) feeds on food breakdown products. This process creates a byproduct of acid that can eat through enamel (tooth surface). The bacteria in our mouth needs nutrients to survive and most of them are really attracted to foods that contain sugar. In the presence of sugar, the bacteria gets to feed and release their acidic byproduct. This acidic byproduct affects the tooth by slowly demineralizing the enamel. With enough demineralization in an area of the tooth, the enamel softens and a cavity forms.
So…given that information, we know that the less sugars that we eat or drink, the healthier our teeth will be. Right?? And that is absolutely true. A diet filled with fresh vegetables and some fruits is so healthy for our teeth and for our general health. That said, the occasional sweet treat is acceptable as long as we understand the process. In other words, after eating or drinking anything with sugar, we should brush our teeth thoroughly as soon as possible to reduce the sugar that is left in the mouth that attracts the bacteria that causes the acid formation that breaks down our teeth and causes cavities (whew…this reminds me of the story of The House That Jack Built )
In my opinion, any life commitment that involves extremes is going to be prone to failure. To tell people that they cannot eat sweets at all will not work. Teaching people that excellent oral hygiene after eating or drinking occasional (<<–operative word) sweets will definitely decrease the risk of decay gives people the freedom of choice. And it allows people to be proactive in their healthcare!
Family Dental Care Park Ridge will continue to enjoy life outside of the box. And we will continue to have Fun Friday. But, we will, as always, promote and teach the very best in oral hygiene habits to our patients and to our readers so that we all strive for excellence in our oral health.
Thank you, Scott, for your awesome question! If you have a dental related question that you would like to see answered here on Ask the Dentist, email your question to info@ParkRidgeDDS.com .
And remember, as always…we LOVE making you smile!