Friday, July 12, 2013

Preventing Cavities: How and When You Eat Matters

When it comes to maintaining healthy teeth, chances are you already know to limit your consumption of sugary and sticky foods. However, there are other factors that can contribute to cavities beyond what you eat. When and how you eat impacts the health of your teeth, too.

How do cavities form?

To best understand how these factors play a role in the health of your teeth, let's look at how cavities form. When the bad bacteria in your mouth isn't kept in check, it has a better chance at causing damage to your teeth.

You can stop this from happening by brushing and flossing to eliminate the bacteria, and by cutting off their food supply: sugar. They don't just get sugar from sweet foods and drinks, but from white flour products as well.

As they break down these sugars, it creates a lot of acid. These acidic conditions inside your mouth make saliva less effective at protecting your teeth. The flow of fluids in your teeth is also reversed by the acidity. Fluids normally flow outward to repel bacteria away from the enamel. This extra acid causes the fluids to flow inward and pull bacteria in towards the tooth.

With the saliva unable to protect your teeth effectively, the acids begin to wear away at the enamel, exposing the dentin beneath. The bacteria can then cause damage to the dentin, which results in cavities.

Keep track of when and how you eat

Limiting the amount of time your mouth is exposed to acidic conditions is key to preventing cavities. If you only eat one snack each day, you may think you're doing a good job at cutting back on sugar. However, if you munch on that snack continuously throughout the day, you're prolonging the time that your mouth is exposed to harmful acids.

Instead, keep regular mealtimes and eat any sugary foods with your meal. Eating a meal stimulates saliva production to wash away any harmful acids. This will also limit the time that your mouth spends in an acidic state.

If you do decide to have a snack between meals, try to
  • Avoid "grazing" over several hours by eating it all at once.
  • Keep a bottle of water handy and drink it with your snack.
  • Drink sugary drinks with a meal or drink them all at once rather than sipping slowly throughout the day.
Most people don't know that when and how one eats can encourage cavities to develop. The good news, however, is that small changes in your eating habits can result in healthier teeth.

A healthy lifestyle enthusiast, F.R. writes about keeping our bodies and oral health in prime condition. Look for similar topics from a top Arlington (TX) dentist - team dentist for the Texas Rangers. This dentist in Arlington specializes in creating a beautiful, healthy smile using stress-free care in a comfortable environment.
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