“Grazing” and Tooth Decay – As a dental professional, one of the most common questions I am asked is “Why am I getting cavities”? While that question can be complex and different for each individual, we are finding that one of our patients biggest challenges is how often they are eating. Long gone are the days of three square meals with an apple for a snack. In its place we tend to supplement meals by “grazing” on foods that have little nutritional value and a much higher sugar content.
Nearly every food or beverage that you consume provides nourishment to the bacteria present in your mouth. The bacteria in turn produces acid which attacks your teeth and depletes the minerals it is made up of. After eating, your mouth will return to its normal acid levels in about 20-30 minutes. But what happens if you take another sip of that Gatorade or another handful of potato chips before that 20 minutes is up? You guessed it, it will take an additional 20-30 minutes for the acid level to return to normal. This repeated attack can eventually lead to tooth decay!
So here are some tips to reduce your risk of tooth decay:
* Limit your between meal snacks. If you need to have a snack choose something nutritional such as low fat cheese, plain yogurt, fruit, leafy greens or almonds.
* Drink your sugary drinks with a meal. The saliva you produce when eating will help to buffer the acid and rinse food particles from your teeth.
* Chew sugar free chewing gum. It also helps to stimulate saliva flow which washes out food debris and acids.
* Develop a brushing and flossing routine. We recommend brushing two times per day for two minutes each time and flossing daily. If you’re not currently doing this, take it a step at a time until you build up to a healthy routine.
* Visit us on a routine basis. The best dentistry I can do for you is the least dentistry. And the more often we see you, the least amount of dentistry will be needed!