Is it an old tale of wives that cavities are caused by sugar? Is it just an excuse that parents use to scare kids off indulging in a Halloween candy bag? Is this time of year why dentists are always giving away free toothbrushes and toothpaste?
As a mother, we want to make good choices for our children, and perhaps balance all the no’s every once in a while with a few yes’s. So when it comes to sugar, particularly the candy-filled bags your kids get from Halloween right through to Valentine’s Day, we want to help you understand the relation between sugar and cavity.
What is a Cavity?
A cavity, also known as dental caries, is a void in a tooth where the enamel of the tooth has decayed. Decay is triggered as plaque builds up on the tooth–a sticky bacteria that naturally occurs in the digestive process. This plaque can cause decline when left for long periods of time, forming a cavity.
Does Sugar Cause Cavities?
No, sugar does not cause cavities, cavities are caused by bacteria. Nevertheless, sugar digestion produces bacteria that, if not properly managed, can contribute not only to cavities, but also to gum disease and may result in tooth loss. Each time we eat meat, our body creates acids to break down the food to aid with digestion. Our teeth are demineralized by these acids. Fortunately, by brushing our teeth, drinking fluorinated water, and even our own saliva, our teeth are remineralized. The final line? It is safe to indulge in certain sugar treatments as long as caution is taken to reduce the presence of cavity-causing bacteria.
You don’t have to give up candy to avoid cavities, but you have to stay on top of good oral care; particularly during vacations like Halloween. The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day, floss and rinse with mouthwash every day, use sugar-free gum between meals, and see your dentist at least twice a year.
Encouraging kids to eat fewer sweets may help prevent cavities, but it also has other health benefits. Establishing good dental health practices in children is a proactive way of helping to reduce future health issues, including improved heart health, lower diabetes risk, cancer, stroke, and more. You can actually read here about the benefits of good oral hygiene.
Either setting up a new routine or getting back on track with prevention of cavities and good oral hygiene habits, Dr Meenu Giri, Family Dentistry dentists are here to help. Find a family dentist near you online today to schedule an appointment.