While Santa loves his cookies, have you ever thought about what all those cookies do to his smile? Niles Family Dentistry is here with tips on how you can enjoy your cookies like Santa does, without cavities harming your smile.
The Sugary Facts on Cookies
While you were a child, you most likely heard the saying ‘sugar will rot your teeth,’ however, that’s not entirely true. During the Christmas season, you can find a good holiday cookie just about anywhere you go, but do you need to avoid them for the sake of your teeth? While they’re loaded with sugar, that’s not necessarily what is going to harm your smile.
The Truth About Cavities
You might not know it, but our mouths are filled with bacteria. Some of that bacteria is needed to stay healthy, but some of that bacteria can actually be bad for us. This bad bacteria feeds on what we eat, mainly sugar and starches. When this bacteria comes into contact with sugar and starches, it produces an acid that can then cause bacterial infections. Colgate explains that these bacterial infections can do two things:
- They can destroy the outer layer of your tooth, the enamel
- If left untreated, the bacteria infections can turn into cavities
Cavities are infections that go into deep layers of the tooth, creating a small hole that can lead to pain, tooth sensitivity, and in severe cases, tooth loss. The good news is that your mouth does have natural defenses that try and prevent these cavities from occurring. Colgate further explains that the damage can be reversed by the minerals that come from your enamel and saliva. This process is called remineralization. It generates minerals like calcium and phosphates, which work together to strengthen your teeth. Your mouth can also fight cavities when it comes in contact with fluoride, which is another mineral that can help repair weakened enamel.
While your mouth has its own natural defenses when it comes to fighting cavities, it can only do so much by itself. However, there are things you can do to help your mouth fight these cavities. Mayo Clinic offers tips on how you can prevent cavities:
- Brush with fluoride toothpaste after eating or drinking. You should be brushing your teeth twice a day, ideally using a fluoride toothpaste. You should also be flossing each day to help clean between your teeth in the small areas the bristles on your toothbrush can’t reach.
- Rinse your mouth with a fluoride mouth rinse, but your dentist can recommend what’s best for you.
- See your dentist often. Getting professional teeth cleanings and regular exams will help prevent problems or spot them early. Your dentist will tell you how often you need to see based on your oral health condition.
- Get dental sealants. A sealant is a protective plastic coating applied to the chewing surface of back teeth. It helps seal off grooves and small spaces that can collect food, protecting tooth enamel from plaque and acid. It’s recommended that school-age children get dental sealants.
- Drink tap water. Most tap water sources have added fluoride, which can help reduce tooth decay and fight cavities.
- Avoid frequent snacking and sipping. Whenever you eat or drink anything other than water, your mouth will create acids that can destroy tooth enamel. If you snack or drink all day long, your mouth is always under attack.
- Eat tooth-healthy foods. Some foods and beverages are better for you than others are. Try to avoid acidic food and drinks that harm your teeth. It’s also important to not consume hard, sticky, and sweet foods on a regular basis that can contribute to cavities.
Do I Have to Avoid Christmas Cookies for my Dental Health?
In short, no, you do not have to avoid Christmas cookies this holiday season. In fact, indulging every now and again is a good way to make sure you don’t overdo it at any one given point. The important thing to remember is to thoroughly clean your teeth when you are done enjoying your treats this Christmas season. Be sure to brush your teeth soon after enjoying your favorite cookie, and flossing at the end of the day to remove any food debris that might have gotten stuck between your teeth. You can have your cookies and eat them too this holiday season!
Make an Appointment with Niles Family Dentistry
Give the gift of dental health this holiday season. If you want to have a deep cleaned mouth before the holidays, or just in time for the new year, make an appointment with Niles Family Dentistry today. Not only are we here for you, but your entire family too! Call us today at (720)-744-0001.