I have a confession to make. My name is Greg the dentist and I love sugary foods! The scandalous element to this confession of course, centers around the awareness that simple carbohydrates in general and sugars in particular are primary culprits in the occurrence of dental caries, aka tooth decay, aka cavities.
Let’s scratch a little deeper than the surface and look at this whole process of tooth decay with a little more detail.
There are exactly three ingredients necessary to develop a cavity: 1. a tooth, 2. bacterial plaque that efficiently converts carbohydrates/sugars to acidic waste, 3. carbohydrate/sugar. If you put these three ingredients together too often there are going to be problems. Take any one of these three ingredients away and tooth decay simply cannot occur. Most of us don’t want to take away the teeth so we focus on curbing the other two. We brush and floss our teeth in an effort to rid our mouths of the bacterial plaque ingredient. Sadly however, we can never totally eliminate the bacterial plaque and very quickly they raise a new family. We watch what we eat because what we eat is what the bacteria get to eat. If we eat simple carbohydrate rich foods too frequently our bacterial plaque will be generating tooth destroying acids at a rate that will cause chemical erosion of teeth and cavities are born.
But here’s the good news. Earlier I made my confession concerning my own personal sweet tooth. I would say that a day seldom passes in which I don’t have a sugary snack of some sort somewhere throughout the day. The photo above is from the egg nog cake that my friends Dan and David gave me for Christmas. I just enjoyed those two slices this evening after dinner. And guess what? I haven’t had a cavity in decades! So what’s the secret? The secret is that it doesn’t matter HOW MUCH sugar or carbohydrate you eat or drink. What matters is HOW OFTEN you eat or drink them. Tooth decay rates are much more tied to FREQUENCY of sugar exposure than they are to QUANTITY of sugar exposure.
Let me give you an example: Let’s say that you and I both love Coca Cola. We each have a 12 ounce can to enjoy. You are extremely thirsty so you quickly drink the entire can within the first five minutes. I, on the other hand am a sipper. I have a swallow here and a swallow there but I’m not finishing the can until an hour after I started it. In this example we would have had exactly the same QUANTITY of sugar but I would have had a much higher FREQUENCY of exposure. My 12 ounce can would have done MUCH more damage to my teeth than your 12 ounce can.
If you are having a tooth decay problem, odds are that there is something within your diet, something you enjoy eating or drinking, that you have frequently throughout the day. Maybe it is Gatorade. Maybe it is breath mints. Maybe it is coffee with sugar. Perhaps it is Skittles.
Whatever it is you’ll need to ask yourself a questions. Which do you like more? Your teeth or this frequent sugar-rich element within your diet? The bottom line is that one of them will have to go. Remember, your sugar-rich friend doesn’t have to go away entirely. You can safely enjoy a quick sugary snack once or twice a day. I’m living proof!
Contact our Mason-based office. Not only can we complete a comprehensive examination in search of evidence of dental caries but we can also conduct a one-on-one dietary analysis to ferret out just where your dietary profile could be contributing to dental health problems.
Dr. Davis is especially good with kids. And his staff? Helpful, compassionate, and caring. They take care of business for you. Thumbs up. 10 on a scale of 5.