While it’s still warm out, giving in to temptation for some ice cream from Andy’s or a trip to Pineapple Whip is completely understandable. We all have cravings for sugary snacks, and that’s okay. If you are conscious about your oral health, you may be tempted to brush your teeth right after dessert to help prevent cavities. However, you may actually do more damage to your enamel if you brush immediately after eating sugary snacks.
Today, the dentists at Parkcrest Dental Group in Springfield, Missouri, will discuss post-dessert dental care and what you should do to best protect your smile from cavities.
Wait at least 30 minutes.
Believe it or not, sugar doesn’t cause cavities — at least not directly. Sugar feeds cavity-causing bacteria, such as Mutans streptococci (strep throat), and it is those bacteria that directly cause cavities. Sugar contributes to cavities because the bacteria process sugar into demineralizing acids that damage your tooth enamel and cause cavities.
Anytime that we eat sugar, we expose our teeth to these acids. Sugar is like fuel for cavity-causing bacteria. The acid that is produced will break down your enamel, so it would be a mistake to immediately brush your teeth after eating. When you brush your teeth while acid is present, the abrasive brushing grinds the acid into the enamel, causing more damage. Instead, you should swish thoroughly with water to wash away as much acid as possible. After about 30 minutes, it will be safe to brush.
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Our mouths are designed to fend off the attacks of cavity-causing bacteria. However, a healthy mouth is only able to handle a few of these attacks each day. If you are constantly snacking, the healthy bacteria and saliva will be overwhelmed, resulting in the demineralization of your tooth enamel.
While many health experts promote small, healthy meals throughout the day, this can prevent your saliva from reaching the natural balance it needs to fight off bacteria. Adding sugar into the mix only makes things more difficult.
Enjoy your frozen custard or pineapple whip dessert, as long as you aren’t also eating multiple small meals or snacking throughout the day. If you consistently combine these behaviors, you may end up damaging your oral health.
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Believe it or not, your dentists and oral hygienists are likely enjoying sweets this time of year as well. However, they know how to manage their oral health to avoid acid erosion and cavities. As long as you follow the above steps, and schedule regular visits to your dentist, you can have a happy, healthy smile.