We don’t want to appear too bah-humbug about the whole Christmas and sugar thing but, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) ‘free sugars are the essential dietary factor in the development of dental caries’. Therefore, we think it’s worth taking away a few festive tips this year to keep your teeth and smile in tip top shape.
We all know sugar is detrimental to a person’s oral health but how exactly does it go about doing all that damage to our teeth? It’s not solely the sugar that’s so destructive, it’s the acid that’s produced when bacteria and sugar come together that wreak all the havoc.
Your mouth is full of bacteria that combine with food particles and saliva to form plaque. The bacterium in plaque turns sugary food and drinks into energy and produces harmful acid. If there is a plaque build-up, the resulting acid can begin to break down the outer surface of your tooth and eventually enter and damage the inner part of the tooth. If plaque is not removed, it will start to soften the enamel by removing minerals from the tooth and if this goes on for any length of time, a small hole will develop. These are cavities and once formed in the enamel, the plaque and bacteria can get into the dentine, which is softer than the hard outer layer of the tooth and so the decay process is faster.
If decay is not treated, it can enter the pulp. This can cause discomfort and pain as the pulp contains nerves and blood vessels. The bacteria can also infect the pulp and may cause an abscess. It’s common to over indulge a little over Christmas, what with the mince pies, Christmas pudding and cake, let alone those cheeky stollen slices. Here are a few tips and tricks to help your teeth out.
If you can’t clean your teeth for one reason or another, chewing sugar-free gum and rinsing your mouth with water can help neutralise any acids in your mouth until you are reunited with your toothbrush.