Sugar isn’t bad for your teeth. At least, sugar alone isn’t bad for your teeth. The acids produced by the bacteria in your mouth that feed on the sugar you eat? Those are bad for your teeth. So bad, in fact, that many family dentists recommend avoiding sugar altogether.
In addition to sugar, refined carbohydrates – think white flour – are broken down into simple sugars after they are eaten. As with refined sugar, refined carbohydrates are a food source for acid-producing bacteria in the mouth. Just like sugar, white bread and starchy carbs can increase risks of tooth decay and infection.
As we approach Thanksgiving, you may have already started planning what you intend to eat. With breads, potatoes, pies, candied yams, cranberry sauce, and all of the other delicious food that will likely be on offer as you celebrate with family and friends, it seems almost rude to turn any of them down. So, don’t turn any of them down. Eat what makes you happy this year. Enjoy your Thanksgiving. Just take extra steps to protect your oral health at the same time.
Brush Your Teeth 30 Minutes After Eating
You should brush your teeth no sooner than 30 minutes, but no later than 45 after eating or snacking this Thanksgiving. Acids produced by refined-sugar-and-carb-loving bacteria can soften the enamel of teeth. Immediate brushing can remove some of this enamel, exposing underlying dentin which can increase tooth discoloration along with risks of sensitivity. Giving your saliva 30 full minutes to neutralize those acids will help prevent enamel removal. During this 30 minutes, drink a lot of water.
When you brush, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and, unless you have been instructed by your dentist, avoid abrasive toothpaste such as those containing baking soda. A soft-bristled brush and standard fluoride toothpaste will work perfectly for removing plaque, bacteria, and food particles from the surface of your teeth. Don’t forget to floss both morning and night as well. Flossing removes bacteria, plaque, and food particles from the sides of teeth and below the gum line, and is the best defense against gum disease.
Try to Avoid Grazing
It becomes increasingly difficult to brush your teeth 30 minutes after eating refined sugar and carbohydrates when 30 minutes seldom passes without eating. Instead of grazing on sweets throughout the day, choose one or two times to indulge. This will decrease the amount of time acid is in contact with tooth enamel and help reduce your risks of tooth decay or infection.
It can be hard to practice discipline when enticing treats are within reach all day long. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you end up eating more sugar than you intended to or if you aren’t always able to brush your teeth after eating or drinking something that can impact tooth health. Make a concerted effort, but be flexible, too. After all, Thanksgiving is only one day a year and it is a day that is meant to be enjoyed.
Ours was the first nation to declare a national holiday just to give thanks. Part of being thankful is taking care of those things, like teeth, that make the lives we lead possible. Dr. Makhoul and the staff at Makhoul Dentistry wish you a happy and safe holiday and remind you that we offer a range of services that can help keep your smile bright, strong, and beautiful all year-round.
If it has been longer than six months since you last visited our office for a routine cleaning and examination, give us a call at 949-596-0296 to schedule your post-holiday checkup today. Makhoul Dentistry is a family dentistry practice serving Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, and all surrounding areas of California.