You are ready for it! The jack-o-lanterns are carved, the boxes of candy are stocked in the pantry (you of course haven’t opened them just yet) and the costumes are hanging in the closet.
According to Statistics Canada‘s Special Interest stats, more than $613 million in sales of cookies, confectionery and snacks were sold at large retailers across the nation in 2018 and trends keep rising. So if you’re wondering how to conjure up some magic to make all those treats disappear, you're probably not alone.
What does all this excess sugar hanging around mean for the oral health of you and your family? Sugar does have a scary reputation but there is a lot more going on inside the dark corners of your mouth than you may realize; acid is the real villain in this spooky tale.
You can not see them lurking of course, but there is a host of bacteria sneaking around your oral cavity. This is perfectly normal and nothing to fear, but some bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans (sometimes referred to as S.mutans) are credited with being a primary cause of tooth decay.
Bacteria like S.mutans feed off many of the sugars and carbohydrates we consume. Once they metabolize sugar present in our mouth, they produce acid that spreads across your tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is incredibly strong and mineralized by compounds such as calcium and phosphate but it is not indestructible. If acid is continually being produced, it wears down your tooth’s natural defences, a process called demineralization. If acidic conditions regularly persist this can lead to tooth decay.
Here at Orchards Dental, we are not against the occasional chocolate or candy break. You will likely find a few of our staff confess to having a sweet tooth or two of their own. However, we do want to prevent those sticky taffies, chewy chocolates and sweet suckers from creating a scary situation for your tooth enamel.
Here are a few tricks to deal with treats this fall.
1. Limit Frequency
You may not have truly appreciated your saliva before, but it is constantly defending against the harmful effects of acid on your teeth, restoring pH balance and aiding your enamel to remineralize as it brings calcium and phosphate ions back to the tooth's surface. The trick here is giving your saliva time to work by curbing sugar intake which initiates acid production and the demineralization process.
You and your family can support your oral cavities' natural defences by limiting the frequency of your sugar intake throughout the day. If you find yourselves regularly dipping into the candy bowl on the counter or in the staff room, acidic conditions will continue to dominate your oral cavity.
We recommend giving your saliva a fighting chance. Remineralize your tooth enamel by choosing one time of day for your family to indulge in sweet snacking. Choosing nutritious snack choices and minimizing sugar intake in your diet overall will reap great benefits for your body and your oral health. Chewing gum is also a great way to activate your saliva to work its magic. Keeping a pack of sugarless gum near candy corn stash may be a great reminder to keep tooth decay from sneaking up on you.
2. Refresh with Water
It will come as no surprise that water is hugely beneficial to your health and the best form of hydration. Additionally, as an acid and sugar free option, it is also a great way to neutralize acid in your mouth while washing away excess food particles too. A toothbrush is not always handy but water is generally accessible everywhere - and we are grateful!
If tap water or mineral water is an available choice, even better. As you refresh your mouth with water it also raises saliva production which of course means your teeth can start the remineralization process. We all cave to the candy from time to time, the trick is to pair up your treat break with a water break which is advantageous for your teeth as well as your whole body.
3. Fluoride is your Friend
With over five decades of research on the effective and safe use of fluoride treatment to lean on, It is no wonder the Canadian Dental Association supports its appropriate use. Proper, daily use of fluoride toothpaste is an easy way to reap the benefits of fluoride as an extra boost in the remineralization process for your tooth enamel.
Your oral cavity’s natural ability to normalize pH levels after acidic conditions are present creates hydroxyapatite. The calcium and phosphate ions in hydroxyapatite are required to remineralize your enamel. Adding fluoride into the oral fluid mix calls in reinforcements against an acid attack that may have been created after enjoying a treat or two.
This neat trick creates fluorapatite. Because fluorapatite is less soluble than hydroxyapatite, it is highly effective to support remineralization and better protects your enamel the next time acid comes lurking about in your mouth.
If you are wondering about fluoride toothpaste, proper use of fluoride products with children or in-office fluoride treatments our South Edmonton Dental Office staff would be happy to answer all your questions.
4. Floss Daily (and we don’t mean the dance move)
Plaque is the place where bacteria like S.mutans thrive. This is why plaque removal is key to keeping these bacteria from getting too comfortable in the biofilm and spreading acid across the surface of your teeth. You can inhibit undesirable bacteria growth by developing good flossing habits to control plaque build up between dental cleanings.
Flossing is essential to getting that sticky, sweet candy residue out from between your teeth where it is likely not seen or felt. Don’t let bacteria play tricks on you this fall. Fight back with daily flossing and brushing to remove food and plaque.
5. Fix a Date and Freeze the Rest
It is a lot easier to follow all these great tips when the treats are not easily accessible. Our final trick to support your family's oral health is to pick a date that you agree to put the treats away and save for a special occasion. Candy freezes really well and the freezer also makes it a lot less convenient to snack on throughout the day. It can be a fun surprise to take a few treats along for a summer road trip or to toss in a dish for a birthday celebration.
Take the Dread out of Dental Decay
You can treat your mouth to the attention it deserves long after Halloween is over by aiding its natural processes to protect your teeth. These tricks along with regular check ups will significantly reduce the opportunity for dental decay to sneak up on you. No one wants their smile to resemble a jack-o-lantern so keep these tricks going throughout the year to keep your teeth bright and healthy.
If you are concerned about tooth decay or curious about prevention we invite you to visit our modern, professional and welcoming South Edmonton Dental Office. We look forward to seeing you and meeting all your dental health needs.
South Edmonton Dental Care