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Reduce the Impact of Sugar Intake on Your Oral Health

You probably know that eating a lot of sweets can be bad for your teeth. But even if you’re a relatively healthy eater most of the time, you’ll likely have times when you just need a little something sweet. Here are some strategies to help you reduce the impact of these occasional indulgences on your enamel and gums.

Eat the Treat With a Meal

Here’s a great reason for eating your dessert first: the rest of your meal will help dilute and wipe away the traces of sugar left on your teeth (especially if you have a lot of crunchy vegetables or chewy meats in the meal). But that’s not the only reason to eat sweets with a meal.

Snacking is detrimental to your teeth because it increases the number of times during the day they have to deal with food residue and shortens the recovery periods in between. Group your food intake around your meals as much as possible can be beneficial.

Rinse Your Mouth, but Wait to Brush

Some experts advise brushing your teeth after a sugary treat, but studies have shown that doing so immediately after consumption can actually cause further damage. That’s because the acid attack makes enamel slightly softer, which means it’s more vulnerable to scrubbing damage from your toothbrush. If you want to brush your teeth after eating, wait 35-40 minutes first.

But what to do in the meantime? You don’t want to leave sugary residue sitting on your teeth if you can help it. Rinse your mouth out with water immediately after eating, and for additional support you can use xylitol-containing gum or a PH-neutralizing mouthwash to help your teeth fight off the acids.

Brush Teeth Before Eating 

When you brush your teeth with fluoride, you give them a chance to harden themselves against future attacks. Plus, you reduce bacteria colonies that could munch on the sugar. If you know your teeth are going to face an acid challenge (meaning you’re going to eat something sweet, starchy, or acidic), do this before the attack hits to help prevent damage.

This doesn’t mean you need to bush before every meal. That could be overkill, especially if you also brush after meals (you want to avoid overbrushing, which irritates gums and even wear away enamel). But it can be a useful strategy if you know you’re going to eat something sugary and you’re worried it could take a toll.

Make Sure Teeth Are Healthy First

A healthy mouth is going to be better at fighting off the occasional bacterial explosion than one that’s already struggling with inflamed gums, multiple cavities, and enamel erosion. If you’ve just started a lifestyle that boosts oral health, you may even want to go a few weeks or months with no added sugar at all in order to give your mouth a break (consult your doctor first).

Before you add sweet treats back in, make sure all your bases are covered. Are you brushing correctly, flossing, using a tongue scraper, wearing your nightguard, and getting regular dental cleanings? Do you eat a diet that encourages tooth health, get plenty of exercise, and take a good multivitamin and multimineral?

Once all your bases are covered, and as long as you know you don’t have any active cavities, you should be able to combine your good dental health with the other strategies mentioned above to help avoid permanent damage from an occasional sweet treat.

Nobody’s perfect, and even your dentist doesn’t expect you to avoid sugar completely. But if you employ these strategies, you can help your teeth fight back against any acid attacks and hopefully avoid getting any cavities from your sugar intake.

For an appointment with a dental professional who focuses on preventing problems before they happen, get in touch with Dr. Jerry F. Maymi & Associates today. We provide dental services to both individuals and families.