Since Melbourne will be overrun with tiny ghouls, goblins, and assorted Harry Potters on Halloween, it’s trendy for some dentists to offer candy buybacks and other gimmicks.
But what’s the fun in that for the kids?
That made us think about the relationship of sugar and cavities versus the relationship of home hygiene and cavities. Is sugar really the cause or is it just the patsy to blame for dental decay?
Since Dr. Brown and Dr. Vaughn like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup as much as the next person, let’s get into this debate.
Does sugar cause decay?
If you ate a diet like Buddy in the movie Elf, you wouldn’t be doing your body any favors, but would it make all of your teeth fall out due to decay? No. Sugar doesn’t cause decay; bacteria do.
Excuse me? It’s true. Dental cavities, known clinically as caries, are formed when bacteria living in the mouth digest carbohydrate debris left on the teeth after you eat. True, this debris can be refined sugar from cookies, candy, and such, but it can also come from other foods. Sugar simply is pure carbohydrate, so if left on the teeth it gives bacteria more to munch upon.
When bacteria dine on your leftover carb debris, they produce an acid that combines with saliva to form a film on your teeth: plaque. Plaque is what leads to tooth decay, not sugar.
Plaque is the enemy
Plaque starts building up on your teeth after every meal. If left to its own devices, it begins to erode the outer enamel on your teeth, resulting in tiny holes. This is the start of a cavity. In the early stages, your teeth can use minerals from your saliva and fluoride from your water or toothpaste to remineralize the teeth. You may have heard with some deceptive advertising that enamel can be replaced by this or that product. That’s not possible. But certain minerals can strengthen the enamel to better protect it from the ravages of plaque and bacteria.
In the end, sugar is just one of many carbs that can lead to tooth decay. Swearing off the occasional cupcake or Three Musketeers won’t mean you’ll never get a cavity. It’s all about your home hygiene, brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing once a day. Do that and you can have your cake and eat it too.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way — kids, go forth and trick or treat to your little hearts’ content. And then be sure to come see us for your regular exams and cleanings so we can be sure you’re taking care of your brushing and flossing at home. Call us at (321) 372-7700 to schedule your appointment.