New Years Resolutions
Thursday January 3, 2002
Dear Dr. Mady: During the holidays I have been eating so many sweets that I am embarrassed to even talk about it. Besides what it is doing to my waist-line, can my "sweet tooth" hurt my teeth if I overdo it and do you have any good tips for new year's resolutions with respect to teeth? -Jenny in Lakeshore.
Dear Jenny: You are not the only one in this predicament. All of the holiday sweets eaten during December and into the New Year may satisfy your sweet tooth but believe me when I tell you that they may also cause your teeth to decay.
If you don't properly clean and maintain your teeth during these periods of indulgence the results may even be worse than decay, including gum disease and possible tooth loss. When you eat or drink foods that are high in sugars and starches, bacteria in the mouth can utilize these and form dangerous acids that can attack enamel and I don't have to tell you what the result is. If you frequently feed these bacteria and don't brush and floss enough, the frequency is the silent killer. This is because the enamel does not have enough time to regenerate itself and will eventually reach the point of no return (cavity).
So it is not necessarily the amount of sugar and sweets that you consume but the interval between consuming and also the consistency of the food, that has an effect on your teeth. In other words, the ability of the sugar to adhere or stick to your teeth surfaces correlates directly with the level of tooth decay that results from these assaults. The stickier things are, like toffee and gummy bears, the less likely they are to be washed away by saliva and the more likely they are to cause dental breakdown.
Try and eat foods that contain sugars more during meals when saliva is increased and avoid snacks in between meals. If you insist on snacking, try cheese or nuts. Just remember that you can still satisfy your sweet tooth but you have to play by the rules and care for your teeth and gums by brushing at least twice a day, flossing once and regularly visiting your dentist.
In 2002, don't give your teeth the "brush-off". Spend the few minutes every day to maintain them. Always choose oral care products that are approved by a dental association for effectiveness and safety. Eat well and live well for excellent oral and overall health by consuming healthy foods and never overeat.
Don't smoke or use other tobacco products because they contribute to gum disease and oral cancer. Drop all bad oral habits like chewing pens, pencils, and ice cubes. These can cause irreversible damage to your teeth. If your gums bleed at all when you floss or if the way they feel or bite changes, see your dentist immediately for an evaluation. Lastly, if you participate in any kind of sports or rough activities, always wear a custom-made mouth guard. Remember that your teeth are not only for this year, but for life!
This column is reprinted with the permission of the author and The Windsor Star. "Ask the Dentist" is written by Windsor dentist (and ECDS member), Dr. David Mady Jr.. The column appears the first Thursday of each month in the Windsor Star. Readers with questions can write to "Ask The Dentist", c/o The Windsor Star, 167 Ferry St., Windsor Ontario, N9A 4M5