Bacteria are the cause of both cavities and gum disease.
Of course, let’s not generalize, it is not all bacteria but a small defined group of bacteria that love to eat soft carbohydrate based foods. For brevity’s sake, let’s call these bacteria by a random collective name of “Zeb”.
Zeb loves to eat foods that are made of carbohydrates (“carbs”) – these are the small molecules in our diet that are quickly digested and converted to sugars. In fact, Zeb loves to eat these foods so much that he will continue to eat and digest any of these carbs for Two Hours Straight after you have passed them through your mouth! Now why is this a problem? As Zeb eats and digests these carbs he begins to produce acid as a byproduct and releases the acid back into your mouth.
The acid is highly effective at dissolving the enamel and dentin that protect and strengthen your teeth and surrounding the edges of fillings. This leads to the creation of holes in the teeth that we call “cavities”. When the cavity breaks past the first protective layer of the tooth (the enamel) and into the softer and more easily dissolved second layer (the dentin), we then need to do a filling to fill the hole and protect the tooth from further decay and restore its strength – at least as best as possible!
How do we stop Zeb from destroying our teeth?
By eating short meals and snacks, and choosing foods that will not feed Zeb or will even stop Zeb short. This means not snacking on foods throughout the day and eating a well balanced diet. Ending a meal with a food that will counteract the acid or a food high in calcium will also help. Eating according to Canada’s Food Guide will be highly beneficial to your health and to your teeth. Of course, you should always default to the diet prescribed to you by your physician or deemed to be medically necessary for you.
Good foods for your teeth.
Foods that are good at fighting Zeb include fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, cheese, and perhaps milk.
However, milk also contains lactose which can be digested by Zeb and produce cavities – this is especially seen in young children that are put to bed with a bottle and is specifically called “Early Childhood Caries”. A similar effect is had with fruit juices which are acidic, contain fructose and often have sugar added for extra flavor. So please, if a child needs a bottle in bed, it should only contain water!!!
Bad foods for your teeth.
Foods that Zeb loves, and should be eaten in moderation and according to the Canada’s Food Guide, are sugary foods, such as candies, and certain breakfast cereals, carb based foods, such as potato chips, breads, and pretzels, sticky foods, such as yogurts, and acidic foods and beverages, such as fruit juices, salad dressings, and soft drinks. This last group will not only feed Zeb (that guy is such a brat!!) but will also actively dissolve the layers of the teeth away.
Stopping the Acid Cycle.
A good way to interrupt Zeb’s 2 hour acid cycle is to drink a glass of water, eat a small cube of cheese, or chew sugar-free gum that includes a sugar alcohol such as sorbitol or the Zeb fighting Xylitol!! Of course, taking 2 minutes to brush your teeth and floss will also stop Zeb short!
Wow, that was a lot of information and yet not nearly enough!! Should you have questions email us (firstname.lastname@example.org), post a question on our Facebook Page, call us (780-986-6255) or just ask at your next appointment!
See you soon! Dr. Jack Gordon