The season of binging on chocolatey goodness is upon us! But never fear – we’re here to guide you through this dangerous time for your teeth. We’ll help you fight tooth decay while still enjoying your holidays and the Easter eggs coming your way!
You, Kids, Easter Eggs and Tooth Decay
If you’re anything like us, you’re already dreading the feeling you get from over-indulging over Easter… But let’s face it. As much as you want to resist it, it’s going to happen and it’s going to get ugly.
The kids love this holiday too, right?
Of course, Easter is about much more than chocolate and hot cross buns. But we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here to help you lower the risks of getting tooth decay not just for the holiday period, but for the future too!
Your Dentist Hates Easter Time
What if we could make you feel less guilty about the aftermath of stuffing your face with chocolate?
What if we told you there’s a way to eat chocolate without us dentists ever finding out?
If you’re a lover of all things sweet, this blog is going to be your saviour. Sit tight and buckle up, because we’re going to give you our best tips to reduce your risk of developing tooth decay. You’re going to want to eat every last bit of this chocolate Easter egg— I mean, absorb every bit of what we’re about to tell you.
Quick Recap – How Does Tooth Decay Work?
Before we get to the good stuff, lets recap on how tooth decay works. Despite what most people think, sugar doesn’t cause tooth decay. Not directly, anyway.
It’s the presence of decay causing bacteria in your mouth that makes sugar look bad. When you eat sugar or anything that gets broken down into sugar i.e bread, rice, potatoes, the decay causing bacteria in your mouth turns the sugar into acid.
The acid dissolves the enamel, leaving you with a gaping hole in your tooth. The more often our teeth are exposed to the acid produced by this bacteria, the higher the risk of developing tooth decay.
In a perfect world, none of us would have these decay causing bugs living in our mouths. But this isn’t the case. So, how can we continue to enjoy eating the foods we love and live a cavity-free life at the same time? Find out below.
1. Don’t Graze
Snacking frequently is probably the worst thing you can do for your teeth. The more often we feed the decay causing bacteria in our mouths with sugar, natural or not, the more often our teeth gets exposed to the acid the germs produce. And then your risk of getting a hole in your tooth increases.
A healthy mouth is only designed to handle 4 to 5 acid challenges a day before it is overwhelmed and enamel begins to break down. If you snack all day long, your saliva cannot reach a natural balance on its own.
So, when it comes to enjoying your Easter chocolate haul, try and eat it with your main meal, rather than grazing all day. This will give the saliva in your mouth an opportunity to neutralise the acids and to help repair the damage done.
2. Swap Milk Chocolate for Dark Chocolate
Chocolate can actually be beneficial for your health… IF it’s dark chocolate. And not just any dark chocolate. It has to contain at least 70% cocoa.
Dark chocolate generally contains less sugar so already, it’s better for your oral health.
Apart from that, it’s also a powerful source of antioxidants, helping to improve blood flow. It also reduces your risk for heart disease. In saying that, this doesn’t mean you should go eat your bodyweight in dark chocolate. It’s still loaded with calories. But if you’re able to substitute milk chocolate for the darker variety, then it’s a win-win!
3. Rinse After Eating
If you rinse your mouth with water after eating, it helps wash away the excess sugar that’s hanging around and helps your saliva to neutralise the acid produced by the germs in your mouth. Less acid challenge means lower risk for decay.
It’s also important to remember NOT to brush immediately after eating. Wait for at least 30 minutes after a meal before brushing. This will allow your saliva the chance to neutralise any acid produced by the bacteria so you’re not scrubbing away at enamel that’s weakened (at the time) by the acid attack.
4. Drink LOTS of Water
Stay well hydrated throughout the day with plain tap water. It contains fluoride which strengthens your enamel, making your teeth less prone to decay. Staying hydrated also makes sure you are producing enough saliva. The better the quality of your saliva, the better it is at neutralising any acid attack and remineralising your teeth.
Resist the urge to sip on anything sugary or fizzy. By creating an acidic oral environment and continuously feeding the decay causing bacteria with sugar, you’re buying a one way ticket to tooth decay town.
5. Chew On Xylitol Gum
As soon as you’ve finished that last morsel of chocolate, rinse your mouth with water and chew on some sugar-free gum with xylitol in it. Chewing sugar-free gum can help your saliva glands get to work neutralizing the acids in your mouth. It will also help remove food particles from your teeth.
In addition to that, some studies have shown that Xylitol (a natural sugar substitute) can help to reduce the level of decay causing bacteria in plaque and saliva. The next time you’re at the supermarket, go to the gum section and find your favourite gum. Just make sure it is sugar-free and has Xylitol in it.
6. Practice Good Oral Hygiene
As always, brush twice a day for 2 minutes each time. Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride in it. Use soft, gentle, circular or back and forth motions because if you brush too hard, you can brush your gums and teeth away!
Hard tooth brushing techniques can lead to gums shrinking (gum recession), exposing the roots of your teeth which can lead to sensitivity and increased risk of tooth decay. And of course, flossing once a day helps move plaque from the surfaces of your teeth where the toothbrush bristles can’t get to.
7. Choose The “Right” Kind of Sweets
If you’re thinking about getting fancy with your choice of treats, think again. Eating chocolate coated “anything sticky/chewy/gummy” can make matters worse.
The longer sugar stays in contact with your teeth, the more you feed the germs. Then they’ll produce more acid, leaving your teeth vulnerable to decay.
On the same level of bad are also lollies and drinks that are acidic. The combination of acid and sugar is a double threat to our teeth. Avoid them at all cost. If you’re given a choice between a Marvelous Creations Jelly Popping Candy Beanies or a classic Freddo, pick the latter.
And while you’re at it, avoid sweets that are hard. They break or chip your tooth more easily… I’m looking at you “Minties”.
Guilt Free Chocolate Diet. Who’s here for it?
One final thing, remember to keep your regular dental check up appointments. Visiting your dentist every 6 or 12 months (depending on your risk for decay) means that any potential problems are diagnosed and treated as early as possible. This not only keeps your dental costs down, but also ensures your teeth and gums are always strong and healthy!
If you need to book your dental check up and cleaning – click here to contact Method Dental, or book online!
Dr. Grant McGrath BDSc
Co-Founder, Principal Dentist
Jasmine Ooi BPharm