Everybody knows that sugar isn't great for teeth. Though delicious, sugar combines with the bacteria in your mouth to create acids, which then start to eat away at tooth enamel, stripping it of its minerals and eventually causing decay. Of course, few people are willing to commit to eliminating sugar from their diets altogether, but there are a number of steps you can take, beyond brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist regularly, that will reduce the amount of damage that sugar can do to your teeth. Here are just five.
1. Chew Gum
When it comes to fighting back against the damage caused by sugar, your teeth have one strong natural defence: saliva. The saliva in your mouth contains several important minerals, including calcium and phosphate, that help enamel to replace the minerals it loses during an acid attack. Chewing some gum after you enjoy a sugary drink or meal will promote saliva production. Just make sure it's sugar-free gum!
2. Drink a Glass of Fluorinated Water
You'll probably know that toothpaste usually contains fluoride. Like saliva, fluoride is an important substance for keeping your teeth healthy, so it is often added to public drinking water in order to improve the population's oral health. Most of Australia now enjoys access to fluorinated water from their taps, but you can always pick some up at the shops if your area isn't covered.
3. Limit Snacking
The amount of sugar you consume each day is important, but equally important is the number of times you consume it. After your teeth come into contact with sugar, the resulting acid attack lasts around 20 minutes. If you eat another sugary treat 20 minutes after the first one, the process starts all over again. If you're going to have sugary drinks or foods, try to consume them with your main meals of the day in order to reduce the number of these acid-attack periods.
4. Don't Eat or Drink Anything with Sugar Before Sleeping
Ideally, you want to brush your teeth before bed, having nothing to eat or drink, besides water, between putting down the toothbrush and hitting the hay. However, it is especially important not to slip in any sugary snacks. When you sleep, the flow of saliva is reduced, so teeth will be less able to repair themselves after the acid attack caused by your sugary pre-bed treat.
5. Use a Straw for Sugary Drinks
Popular soft drinks often contain a significant amount of sugar, so they are one of the worst dental offenders. If you still want to keep drinking them, try using a straw whenever possible instead of drinking directly from the can, bottle, or glass. This will limit the amount of contact that the drink and its sugars have with your teeth.Share
12 October 2016
As a retired dentist, I work with charities which visit developing countries and educate children about dental care. It gives me great satisfaction to revisit these communities and see how proud the children are of their efforts. I am acutely aware that good dental hygiene can help prevent a range of serious conditions when these children become older. I started this blog because it greatly distresses me that many people in Australia do not seem to care for their teeth as much as children in these poor communities. This is happening despite ready access to items like toothbrushes and toothpaste which are luxuries in the places I visit. It is my hope that this blog encourages you not to take dental health for granted. My greatest wish is that you can be as inspired as the children I see in my charity work. Please read on and enjoy.