Dr. Steven F. Driggers, DDS and our team in Avon, Indiana, know that when it comes to caring for your smile, there may be some things you should know in addition to brushing and flossing daily. Even if you brush and floss diligently, knowledge is power and we want to empower you in your smile health.
The first line of defense in your mouth is your saliva, as it acts like a disinfecting cavity fighter. Plaque–the bacteria that sticks to the teeth and releases acid that wears down tooth enamel–is responsible for causing tooth decay. Saliva helps rinse away bacteria and neutralizes the acid. If you have dry mouth, whether from illness, medication, or unhealthy habits, you need to increase your saliva for a healthy smile. To help stimulate sufficient saliva production, drink plenty of water, chew sugar-free gum or mints, and snack on crisp vegetables. Our dentist may also prescribe artificial saliva if necessary.
Eating sugar or drinking soda with a meal is one thing, but snacking or drinking sugary items all day is destructive. The more often you consume sugar (feeding the bacteria in plaque) the more acids coat your tooth enamel for longer periods. It is better to have a slice of cheesecake as dessert after a meal rather than snack on chips or chocolate throughout the day.
Did You Know?
It takes about 20 minutes to clear sugar from your mouth before it is neutralized. During that 20-minute time period, the bacteria convert the sugar to acid where they are busy attacking your teeth and demineralizing the enamel. Snacking all day keeps this process going on long enough to result in tooth decay, over time. As teeth continue to soften the end result can be root canals and extracted teeth. This is why you want to brush and floss the bacteria away daily.
Gum disease is an indicator of overall health because chronic inflammation from your body fighting off bacteria can affect other areas of your body. People with diabetes have higher levels of gum disease, and high levels of gum disease have been linked to increased risk of heart disease and premature births.
To prevent tooth decay and gum disease, brush at least twice each day and floss at least once. Just as important, see your dentist at least twice a year. If you have gum disease, those visits may even need to be more frequent. Dr. Steven F. Driggers, DDS and our team in Avon, Indiana, wish you and yours a healthy holiday season!