Look after your teeth
Looking After Our Teeth
Our teeth are covered in bacteria which in themselves are harmless. However,when this bacteria mixes with sugar in the diet an acid is produced which forms a substance called plaque. The plaque forms a layer (which can often be felt in our mouths) and attacks the enamel on the teeth which causes the formation of cavities.
Within the mouth the pH level is lowered which leads to a process called demineralisation, where calcium and phosphorus are removed from the teeth. This is the start of a cavity being formed. To counteract this process the body will produce saliva which in turn raises the pH level and allows the body to claim back those minerals and put them back into the teeth. This process is called remineralisation, and can take up to 8 hours.
In order to prevent teeth decay try and eat three meals a day and ideally no more than 3 snacks or intakes of sugar ( this includes sugar in coffee and tea). The body produces a great deal of saliva at a meal enabling the repair process to proceed happily. The most damaging way to eat is to eat a large number of snacks or to graze on foods or drinks throughout the day. It is the frequency of the sugary consumption not the amount. Sipping a fizzy drink throughout the day is the worst example, as is sucking mints all afternoon. It is far better to drink and eat in one go and let the body produce saliva to help to repair the teeth.
Some foods are worse than others and have been seen to stick to the teeth. These foods will encourage tooth decay as the saliva finds it difficult to remove them . To avoid this happening, eat the culprit food with a meal.
Some of these foods are:
Raisons and other dried fruit, ice cream, dry cereal, chips, fizzy drinks
The main way to increase the pH in the mouth is to encourage saliva production. One good way of doing this is to eat a sugar free chewing gum after food has been eaten.
Dentists are keen for people (including children) to use toothpaste that contains fluoride. Some people are unlucky and may suffer more from tooth decay than others. If this is the cause, then it is advised to use a mouthwash or gel that contains fluoride.
Eat cheese after a meal to raise pH levels and help prevent tooth decay
Try sugar substitutes (sugar free mints, sugar free fruit drops, artificial sweeteners in tea and coffee)
Remember brushing your teeth after eating a sugary snack will not make much difference.