Foods That Cause Tooth Decay

Apr 11th, 2018
Easton Dentists Apr 11th, 2018

When it comes to tooth decay, it’s important to know the main culprit – acid. Acid is what eats away at our enamel and causes cavities.

Acid can enter our mouths in one of two ways: either directly through what we eat (citrus fruits, for example), or as a byproduct when oral bacteria consume the sugars that we eat.

Ultimately, a simple way to identify foods that cause tooth decay is to ask whether it’s acidic or sweet/starchy.

Acidic foods include things like citrus fruits, tomatoes, vinegar, kombucha and sour candy.

Sweet/starchy foods include things like candy, soda or sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit, bread,cereal, pasta and crackers.

The longer these things interact with your teeth, the greater the chance for tooth decay to occur. For example, sipping on soda throughout the day, or chewing a gooey caramel treat, increases the amount of sugar that coat your teeth. Bacteria love to feast on this sugar, creating an acidic environment and putting your teeth at risk for decay.

To help protect your teeth against tooth decay:
– Reduce your consumption of sweets and refined starches
– Enjoy acidic foods in moderation or as part of a meal
– Decrease or eliminate your consumption of soda or sugar-sweetened beverages
– Swish with water after meals and snacks
– Maintain good oral hygiene to brush away plaque buildup (floss at least once a day and brush twice a day)

And, as always, make sure to visit us regularly so we can remove tartar buildup and assess for early signs of decay!

Make an APPOINTMENT today!

Energy Drinks and Your Child’s Teeth. Should You Worry?

Nov 14th, 2016
Easton Dentists Mar 1st, 2017

Energy Drink

The hard clack of cleats echo about as your “little” sports hero rushes to get out of the house … soon to be late for practice. Armed with all they’ll need for a day in the sun, their equipment bag is packed and slung awkwardly over one shoulder, bursting at the seams with untold numbers of pads and dirty gear. And after making a final beeline through the kitchen to raid your refrigerator of a 64oz bottle or two of rainbow-colored sustenance, they’re off for what will no doubt be another grueling practice session. You’re proud of your kids – they’re growing up. And yet you wonder as you stare at the door that just shut behind them. Are those techni-colored drinks they’re drinking every day hurting them?

The truth, unfortunately, is yes. While they may keep your children energized and awake for the next few hours, the bad news is, they’re secretly eating away at their teeth – and fast.

Why Are Energy Drinks Such a Threat to Teeth?

The crux of the problem is the double-whammy that comes from an exceedingly high sugar content and citric acid pH that can be as low as 2.9. Now, we understand pH can be a tricky thing to understand, so to help put that number in perspective, a bit, consider this: battery acid has a pH of 0.0 (so, a lower number means a higher acid content). Stomach acid (which we can imagine as being quite acidic, at least!) has a pH that fluctuates between 1.0 and 3.0.  A lemon, in contrast, comes in at around 2.0, a grapefruit at 3.0, and tomato juice at 4.0.

The real distinction though is in knowing that with each increase in numerical value, the acid intensity increases 10-fold. So, in the example above, a lemon ends up being 10 times more acidic than a grapefruit, and 100 times more acidic than tomato juice – a sensation you can certainly taste if you bite into one!  In contrast, milk and water have a pH of 7.0, so, it’s easy to see the difference in the numbers – they’re huge.

The Science

What all this means to your child’s teeth is the real question, though, and precisely what researchers at Southern Illinois University set out to discover in 2012.  The results, which surprised even the research team, showed considerable damage to tooth enamel after only five days of steady consumption. Five days.

To determine the effect of these drinks on our teeth, the research team looked at 22 popular sports and energy drinks, and exposed artificial tooth enamel to the beverages for 15 minutes at a time, four times daily. This schedule was chosen because it mirrors the consumption habits of many users who drink these beverages every few hours – a particularly common habit among those who consume sports drinks, particularly when your kids are involved in sports.  After each 15-minute exposure, the enamel was then placed into an artificial saliva solution for two hours to mimic what would happen once consumption stopped.  After only five days on this schedule, the enamel showed a 1.5% loss with sports drinks, and a shocking 3% loss with energy drinks.

We have seen to many patients in their younger years already suffering from extensive enamel loss. One case was especially heartbreaking because the patient thought they were doing a great job simply by staying away from soda. The result: it gave that patient more perceived  freedom to consume these sport drinks at a higher rate because they were “better” than soda.

The Critics

While critics in the beverage industry suggest the time used to expose the enamel to the drinks may have been excessive, it’s widely known that snacking, as well as regular sipping of any beverage other than water, creates acidic activity in the mouth that promotes tooth decay. Of course, adults also need to be careful, and if you’re the weekend warrior type, or are pulling shifts and consuming these beverages throughout the day, the time of exposure might actually not be long enough.  The sweet spot is in the middle-ground, and that’s basically the advice we’re going to offer today.

There is no doubt that these beverages are not good for our teeth. They’re also not good for our stomach, and esophagus if one is prone to acid reflux.

The Middle Ground — It’s about being Informed

We’re not asking you to force your kids to give up their sports beverages and energy drinks. However, it is wise to know the risks, and to understand how you can help your kids combat some of their side-effects. Here are two quick tips that will help if they can’t shake the habit:

  • Have them keep water nearby so they sip on it to dilute the acid covering their teeth. This also increases saliva production to help protect tooth enamel.
  • Suggest that they don’t brush immediately after consuming such beverages.  Why? Because in the thirty minutes to an hour after consumption, tooth enamel will be slightly softer, and brushing in this window of time literally ends up spreading the acid around to other parts of the teeth. Not good.  If brushing is desired, save it for an hour or so after.

Lastly, here is the breakdown of most caustic to least caustic drinks as found by the researchers. Remember, the lower the number, the more harmful to your teeth!

Sports Drinks:

  • Filtered Ionozed Alkaline H2O – pH: 10.0
  • Water – pH: 7.o
  • Odwalla Carrot juice – pH: 6.2
  • Odwalla Vanilla Monster – pH: 5.8
  • Unflavored Pedialyte – pH: 5.4
  • Vita coco – pH: 5.2
  • Aquafina,Dasani, Smart water – pH: 4.0
  • GU2O – pH: 4.29
  • Powerade – pH: 3.89
  • Accelerade – pH: 3.86
  • Gatorade Endurance – pH:  3.22
  • Monster – pH:  2.7

Energy Drinks:

  • Red Bull – pH: 3.3
  • AMP Energy – pH: 2.7
  • Monster Energy – pH: 2.7
  • Full Throttle  – pH: 1.45
  • Rock Star – pH: 1.5

P.S. Don’t forget the mouthguard!

Healthy Halloween! Smart Ways To Combine Dental Health With Halloween

Oct 31st, 2016
Easton Dentists Mar 1st, 2017

halloween-candy-main

Halloween is here, this means fun time for the kids. They will eat lots of candy and probably stockpile sweets for the winter. This is perfectly normal behavior for kids. The only problem is that sweets and candy may not translate to healthy teeth and a bright smile. Now we cannot ban candy during the Halloween because we want to enforce strict standards of dental hygiene. However, we can give the kids tips on dental care so that candy will not lead to cavities. Below are some smart ways to ensure that our kids maintain Healthy Halloween.

Communicate with the kids

Children are not magicians so they cannot know what they have not been taught. Parents should explain the connection between sweets and cavities to the kids. Just teach the kids to brush their teeth immediately after eating candies and they will get the message.

Limit the sweets

After trick or treat night, limit how much candy your children consume for the night. Why?

  1. Sugary Snacks – Halloween favorites like candy corn contain a huge amount of sugar which leads to tooth decay.
  2. Chewy Sweets – Gummy candies are delicious but the remains get stuck in teeth and are a serious source of tooth decay.
  3. Sticky Sweets – Dried fruits may seem like a healthy choice to hand out for Halloween but as with chewy sweets, these fruits stick to your teeth and make it very hard for saliva to wash remains away.  Fresh fruits are the way to go if you’re going with the alternative route.
  4. Sour Candy – This may come as little surprise to you, however sour candy contain acid which erodes tooth enamel and helps foster tooth decay.

Show them a video or invite your dentist over

A picture is worth a thousand words and a movie is more effective than a lecture. Show the kids an interesting movie on proper dental care because this will make the right impression on them. In fact, this is a smart move because it will make Halloween a wonderful experience for the kids.

This is the perfect time to invite your family dentist to give an informal lecture to the kids. Make this a part of the Halloween festivities and it will have the right impact. Your family dentist or his representative should lecture the kids on proper dental hygiene, effective brushing techniques and flossing the teeth. For best results, the dental expert should join the kids in eating candy.

Healthy dental habits will keep kids’ teeth in great shape for years to come and will make dentist trips quick and painless.

 

This Halloween, remember that moderation is key.  Enjoy those sweets but make sure you’re taking good care of your teeth all year.  Schedule your cleaning appointment with Easton Dentist today and we’ll make sure you stay on track. The Dental Center is here for regular checkups and any emergencies that may arise. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for everyone in the family.