Prevent the Syracuse New York Holiday Season from Damaging your Teeth
Blast Christmas music in traffic, round up last-minute gifts, and start the countdown, Syracuse; we are one week away from Christmas! We know you’d rather spend this month’s paycheck on gifts and holiday events instead of cavities, so we’re giving you the inside scoop on how to keep your teeth cavity-free.
Start your day out right by switching from juice to fresh fruits and vegetables. Many store-bought juices have added sugar or sweeteners. Bacteria on teeth use sugars to fuel production of cavity-causing acid. Plus, fresh fruits and vegetables add fiber to your diet and can give you fresher breath (See our article on reducing bad breath). Replace that morning glass of orange juice with a real orange, or if you don’t have time in the mornings, compromise by getting a fresh juice or smoothie from Syracuse’s Koinonia juice bar and café.
Ease up on the soda. Sugar in soda can be an energy source for the bacteria, but soda has the added effect of being acidic all on its own. Sugar-free sodas, like Sprite Zero, are acidic enough to cause erosion on the surface of teeth even in the absence of bacterial involvement (19962418). When the tooth’s protective layer of enamel is stripped away, the tooth becomes more susceptible to future bacterial attacks.
If you can’t make it through the day without juice or soda, limit the frequency that you drink it. Instead of sipping your soda throughout the afternoon, drink it with a meal. The human body can re-mineralize minimal damage to teeth when acidity in the mouth is low. By sipping one can of soda throughout an afternoon, the mouth is kept in a prolonged state of high acidity, and the body does not have the opportunity to re-mineralize damage. If the same amount of soda is downed in one sitting, there is a momentary spike in acidity, but then the buffering effects of saliva neutralize the mouth to healthier levels. If you can’t quit the sweet drinks cold turkey, at least drink it all at once with a meal.
This year, kick the tobacco habit. Smokeless tobacco, commonly known as “dip,” may seem innocuous because it doesn’t involve carcinogenic smoke, but in addition to having its own armament of cancer causing ingredients, it contributes to cavities by containing high amounts of sugar. Keeping a continual source of sugar tucked in the lip increases bacterial growth and cavities (23421309.) In addition, it causes gum recession which exposes the softer root surface of teeth to bacterial acid and contributes to tooth loss by destroying the teeth’s foundation. Decrease the risk of cancer and cavities all at once by throwing away the can and spit bottle.
The simplest, but ultimately the most effective secret to cavity-free teeth is consistent oral hygiene with good form. Brush once in the morning and once at night, and floss once a day. There is no magic toothpaste, toothbrush, or product out there yet that can guarantee miracles more than this secret. Bacteria grow on the surface of teeth as a layer called “biofilm.” When this biofilm is disrupted, bacterial growth and production of acid is halted. A toothbrush is just a mechanical way of disrupting this biofilm. It can only be effective if the toothbrush touches all surfaces of the teeth, so the most effective method is to place the toothbrush halfway on the gums and tooth and move the brush in a circular motion on the cheek side and on the tongue side of teeth. Lastly, brush the chewing surface of teeth and make sure the toothbrush reaches all the way back to the molars. If your hands have difficulty performing these delicate movements when you’re barely awake in the morning, an electric toothbrush can achieve the same circular motion with minimal effort on your part. However, the toothbrush must still reach all sides of the tooth and the gum line to be effective. Toothpastes and mouthwashes that include fluoride can also give teeth added resistance to bacterial acid.
Contrary to popular belief, flossing prevents cavities from forming between teeth by disrupting plaque in addition to just removing irritating food debris. To disrupt plaque, wiggle floss down between the contact of teeth, and sweep the floss up against one side of a tooth, and then sweep it up against the side of the adjacent tooth in a “U” shape to clean both surfaces. The best kind of floss is the kind you will use. If at the end of the day, you cannot muster the will and energy to floss, consider a water flosser as an alternative to traditional floss. It has been shown to reduce plaque and inflammation between teeth (22167932). Ask your dentist about how to safely use one.
Finally, stay up to date with your periodic trips to your dentist in Syracuse NY. Cavity-causing bacteria are infectious. If they are left untreated in the mouth, they can spread rapidly from one tooth to another. If the bacteria are gaining the upper hand, your dentist can tailor your oral hygiene and dietary regimen to your needs or suggest prescription products until the bacteria are under control.
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