I’m sure you’ve heard it before, “eating sweets will rot your teeth”. Although sugar can play a major role, eating sugary foods does not necessarily lead to the formation of cavities.
How Cavities REALLY Form:
Tooth decay doesn’t happen right away, it’s a process. What happens is that particles of food get stuck in-between the crevices and spaces of your teeth while eating. If these food particles are left to fester, they combine with a thin film of bacteria in your mouth (dental plaque). The resulting mixture releases acid that harms tooth enamel. As time goes on and the enamel erodes away, the formation of cavities become dormant. The pain from a cavity starts when the enamel erosion occurs and exposes a nerve. This is why the infected tooth becomes very sensitive to hot and cold fluids, including small food particles that come in contact with it.
How to REALLY Prevent Cavities:
A main way to prevent cavities is by removing the debris left in your mouth from eating foods. This is why dentists suggest that you brush your teeth after every meal. In the event that you don’t have a toothbrush handy, drink plenty of water to rinse your mouth and use sugar-free gum to help remove the remaining particles. Extra points if the gum contains xylitol!
A good rule of thumb is to be cautious when eating food that gets stuck in your teeth easily. For example, after eating a bunch of Cheetos, if you look in a mirror and open your mouth to find your teeth covered in orange. That should be a clear indication to rinse your mouth.
The more you eat during the day, the more you are exposing your teeth to bacteria. Think about a snack as a source of nutrition for decay, forming bacteria. This does not mean you should eliminate snacking altogether, but you should choose wisely when selecting a snack. Although those cinnamon buns may seem like the perfect solution to get you through your mundane Monday. They would not be the best choice for your teeth. Try choosing healthier snacks such as fruits, veggies and nuts. There are many healthy and tasty snack options available. If you want to eat something sweet, try to do so after a meal. That is when you have the most saliva production, which helps wash away food particles.
Just keep in mind that your teeth will be affected by whatever you put in your mouth. It sounds obvious, but hey, it’s a small step towards protecting those pearly whites.