“Eating candy will rot your teeth, you know!”
Since most Nashua kids will soon be home with pillowcases full of Halloween candy, and since we’re headed into the candy/cookiefest of the holidays,
this seems like a good time to explore just how, or if, candy and other sweets are damaging your teeth.
Since Drs. Kalil and Kress see tooth decay pretty much every day, here’s the lowdown on decay and how it relates to sugar.
Is sugar the culprit?
If you ate candy all day every day, you wouldn’t be doing your body any favors, but would it make all of your teeth fall out due to decay? No. Sugar doesn’t cause decay; bacteria do.
Say what? It’s true. Dental cavities, known clinically as caries, are formed when bacteria living in the mouth digest carbohydrate debris left on the teeth after you eat. True, this debris can be refined sugar from cookies, candy, and such, but it can also come from other foods.
When bacteria munch on your leftover carb debris, they produce an acid that combines with saliva to form a film on your teeth: plaque. Plaque is what leads to tooth decay, not sugar. Go tell your Aunt Louise that when she’s scolding you for eating the 18th sugar cookie at your holiday get together!
Plaque is the enemy
Plaque starts building up on your teeth after every meal. If left to its own devices, it begins to erode the outer enamel on your teeth, resulting in tiny holes. This is the start of a cavity. In the early stages, your teeth can use minerals from your saliva and fluoride from your water or toothpaste to remineralize the teeth. This doesn’t replace enamel — that is impossible, despite some claims you may hear on TV from certain dental products — but the minerals strengthen the enamel to better protect it from the ravages of plaque and bacteria.
In the end, sugar is just one of many carbs that can lead to tooth decay. Swearing off a tasty Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup won’t necessarily mean you’ll never get a cavity. It’s all about your home hygiene, brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing once a day. Do that and you can have your cake and eat it too.
Is it time for your twice-yearly cleaning and exam with the team at Kalil & Kress? Call us at (603) 880-7004 to make your appointment.