Many studies have found that consumption of sugary drinks and dessert leads to dental cavities. Frequent snacking of foods high in sugar increases the time that the teeth are exposed to the effects of acids and increases the risk of tooth decay.
Tooth decay is the destruction of enamel, the hard tissue of the tooth. Beneath it, there is dentine and then the pulp chamber. The pulp cavity contains nerves and soft tissues that nourish the teeth. Though strong, the enamel has its limitation, and constant exposure to the acid solution will strip it off and cause it to weaken.
Tooth decay has different stages, and each presents different symptoms and risks. In the initial stages, there are no symptoms, but as the decay progresses, it causes sensitivity to hot and cold foods.
Children are more at risk to teeth decay than adults. Not only because of the consumption of sugar but also because of poor brushing techniques. Children do not brush as effectively as they should. This leaves some of the food particles, which gives room for bacteria to grow.
That is not to say that adults can’t suffer from decay. With poor dental hygiene, plaques can build up and cause the bacteria to affect the enamel.
We have a colony of bacteria in the mouth, some beneficial and others harmful. These bacteria feed on sugar from carbohydrates. When the bacteria team up with the sugar, an acid solution is produced, which damages the enamel in two ways:
The enamel contains calcium and phosphate that give it strength. When we consume sugary foods, the bacteria break it down, producing an acid. This acid solution strips off the enamel of these essential minerals (demineralization). Constant exposure to this solution will cause the enamel to weaken and become prone to decay.
The mouth has a neutral ph., but cavities thrive in an acidic environment.
The acid solution in the mouth lowers the ph causing the mouth to become more acidic.
Do you know it takes about 20 seconds for the bacteria to break down the food and produce the acid? The teeth are exposed to this solution when you consume sugary food. Saliva can reverse the effects caused by the acid, but unfortunately, it takes 20 minutes. This means the enamel is exposed to the disastrous effects of the acid for 20 minutes!
Everybody, especially children, loves sugar or chocolate. But, the more sugar you consume, the higher the risk of dental decays. It is recommended to avoid sugar, but if not possible, consume the foods in moderation. Plus, clean the teeth with a fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash immediately.
The enamel can reverse the demineralization process using fluoride found in saliva. Using a fluoride mouth rinse and toothpaste will reduce the acid attacks. Furthermore, fluoride helps in the reabsorption of the lost calcium and phosphate, which strengthens the enamel.
Ask the dentist about the right amount of fluoride to use for your child.
While at it, change your toothbrush. Use a soft-bristled and kid-friendly toothbrush, and it should be changed every 3-4 months.
Do not forget that this is extremely important for the cleaning of hard-to-reach areas between teeth where food gets stuck and causes plaque accumulation.
Visit your child’s dentist every six months or as advised by the dentist. These regular dental checkups will help with the early detection of dental decay.
Cupertino Family Dental offers children dentistry services that are geared to help to prevent dental cavities. We have professional cleanings to remove plaque and tartar, which can lead to cavities, gum disease, and more serious problems.
Dental sealants are also part of our preventive dental practices to seal the deep grooves on young children’s permanent molars and preventing cavities.