It’s that time of the year again—for family gatherings, hot cross buns, Easter egg hunts and Easter bunnies. While the children or even adults indulge in these sweet treats, we sometimes forget how they can impact your teeth. Worry not, we are here to steer you through this holiday period on how to protect your teeth.
As soon as Valentine’s day chocolate advertising is wrapped up in supermarkets, they start advertising and selling chocolates for Easter. Children are exposed to these products so early in the year that by the time Easter weekend comes by, they have already had their fair share of easter eggs and hot cross buns. Yet there are some parents, who manage to resist these buys and wait until “easter bunny” brings these treats for easter weekend—kudos to you. No matter when the treats are bought, we cannot deny the effect sweet treats have on our teeth and our children’s teeth.
Let’s recap a little on how we get cavities
When the plaque/bacteria on the surface of our teeth come in contact with sweet treats, the bacteria release acid as a by-product onto the teeth. This acid starts eating away through the surface of enamel causing decay. Decay does not just start on the front or biting surfaces of teeth; they can also start in the in-between spaces of teeth. These are areas that are hard to see or clean with your toothbrushes and most of the time, easily forgotten while cleaning teeth (especially in kids mouth). If your child has tight spaces between their teeth, it is so important to clean the plaque off the surface with floss. They can use either a string floss or even stick flosses (flossettes). The removal of plaque in the early stages can prevent decay.
When sugar is left in the in-between spaces whether it be liquid sugar (soft drinks, juices, flavoured milk) or solid sugar (lollies, chocolate or even simple carbohydrates), they initiate the process of decay. While in the enamel stage, decay can be reversed with fluoride and good oral hygiene. Once the decay progresses into the second layer of the tooth called dentine, we will need to clean the decay out and place a filling in the space. Once a filling is placed into a cavity, there is regular maintenance required with fillings – they may need to be replaced every 3-5yrs.
But my children have got baby teeth, they are going to lose that anyway, right?
Yes, you are correct about baby teeth being lost and permanent tooth replacing them but the premature loss of a tooth due to decay may mean they will have issues with spacing for their permanent teeth. This can lead to crowding of teeth, teeth erupting in incorrect position or angle causing orthodontic issues in the future. Baby teeth with decay also need to be filled at early stages to avoid the child experiencing any pain or even to prevent root canal on baby teeth.
So, what can we do smartly this Easter to avoid decay on our teeth?
Don’t graze – Grazing (as we’ll talk about in the next newsletter) can be very bad for your teeth. Munching on sweet treats all day is worse than having a sweet treat with a meal. It takes 20minutes for your saliva to neutralise the acids in your mouth. The more frequent the sugar consumption, the longer it takes to protect your teeth. Try to keep the easter eggs to mealtimes.
Choosing the better enemy – All kinds of easter treats are generally sugary but if you were given a choice, avoid the chewy, sticky or gummy lollies as they tend to stick to the tooth surface causing a higher risk of decay. Slow consumption sugar treats like lollipops are best to be avoided too. If possible, opt for dark chocolate (not sure if your children will be happy with that but definitely, a good option for adults)
Drinking water – Brushing right after a meal/ sweet treat can be more harmful to your teeth as enamel is softer while there is an ‘acid attack’ in the mouth. Drinking water or even rinsing your mouth out after having a sweet treat can help neutralise the acids. It can also remove any sweet foods stuck between teeth reducing the risk of decay.
Practise good oral hygiene – As always, you should brush twice a day for 2minutes. Be sure that you are brushing your teeth gently, with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Visit your dentist – One final thing, remember to keep your regular dental check-up appointments. Visiting your dentist every 6 months means that any potential problems are diagnosed and treated as early as possible. This not only keeps the cost down but also ensures your teeth and gums are healthy!
Have a lovely Easter Break from all of us here at Bite Dental!