Prevention of Tooth Decay
Sugar is mainly responsible for tooth decay. Bacteria in the mouth, called plaque, use the sugar we eat and drink to produce an acid that over time breaks down the tooth surface and causes tooth decay.
For our general health (obesity and diabetes) the amount of sugar is one problem. For the health of our teeth it is also important how many times throughout the day we have sugar and how long this ‘sugar exposure’ lasts. Each sugar exposure will cause your teeth to be under attack for 30 minutes. So for example, if two people have the same bag of sweets, one eats them all at once (one sugar attack) and the other spreads the sweets out throughout the day (many sugar attacks), it is far worse to spread the sweets out.
Tooth erosion is where the tooth surface thins and eventually wears through to the inner part of the tooth causing the tooth to become sensitive, chipped, wear down quickly and decay easily.
It is caused by frequent exposure to acidic food and drink, and is made much worse if teeth are brushed within an hour of acidic food and drink. This is because the acid from the food/drink causes the tooth surface to be softened and a toothbrush will cause the tooth surface to wear quicker.
How to prevent plaque and tooth erosion:
- Limit the amount of acidic drinks you consume each day. Try to only drink acidic drinks through a straw and keep to the back of the mouth
- Eat cheese or chew sugar free gum after acidic food/drinks as this can help to neutralise acid attacks
- Limit the amount of sugary foods you consume each day
- If snacking between meals, try to consume low sugar snacks such as bread sticks, soft cheese triangles, sausage rolls, cheese, marmite or meat sandwiches, or fresh fruit (dried fruit isn’t a safe snack for teeth as the natural sugars stick to teeth). Always look at the sugar content on snacks
- Use toothpastes like Sensodyne Pronamel as they help protect against dental erosion
- Use fluoride mouthwashes and toothpastes – do not swallow large amounts of fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash as they can be harmful
- Use fluoride mouthwashes between brushes
- Brush teeth at least 2 times a day. After each meal is optimal
- Spend at least 2-3 minutes brushing your teeth
- Monitor children as they brush up until the age of 7 (or when they demonstrate effective teeth brushing) to ensure they are brushing all teeth effectively
- Allow children access to a mirror and good light while they brush their teeth as it helps them to be aware of how well and where they are brushing
- Drink only water after brushing at night
Disclosing tablets are food colourants in a tablet form that help show you/your child where you have missed after brushing your teeth. They make really useful teaching aids for children. It is best to use disclosing tablets in the evening as they can colour your mouth and tongue a vivid colour. If used in the evening, by the time you brush again the next morning the colour should have mostly gone.
If you want more information on how to protect your teeth, or want to enrol your child with our Practice for best prevention, please contact us on 01580 848171.