How does your diet affect your risk of cavities, and how can you tell if you have one? Dr. Robert Bryce, an experienced dentist in Potomac Falls, is here to discuss the answers to this important question.
Carbohydrates and Cavities: How They Are Related
Cavities are the result of bacteria feeding on sugar in your mouth. They produce plaque, an acidic, sticky substance that damages the tooth enamel and can eventually create holes in it. There are quite a few different factors that can affect your risk of developing cavities, and your diet is one of the most important ones.
It is important to keep sugar consumption to a minimum; items like candies, pastries, and sweet drinks should be rare treats instead of everyday staples. And keep in mind that time trumps quantity. When you consume sugar, it takes about 20 seconds for it to be converted into acid, which stays active for roughly 30 minutes. Every time you take a bite, a new “acid attack” begins.
Therefore, the amount of sugar you eat may actually be less important than your eating patterns. For example, eating one big piece of cake after dinner may be less harmful than consuming several small candies throughout the day. This is so because the increased saliva produced throughout the meal has a buffering effect on the acidic sugary oral environment.
Considering these risks from eating sugar, why are people averaging close to 16tsp of sugar per day? Especially when all these extra carbs have no nutritional value! Aside from feeding the bacteria that lead to plaque formation, regularly consuming soft drinks has been shown to increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Also consider that a single can of non-diet soda may contain 150 Calories or more. That is one way to put on 15 extra pounds over a 3-year period! Of course, this demonstrates why we have an obesity epidemic in the United States.
Also, keep in mind that plain water should be a regular feature of your diet. Sipping on water, especially after you consume anything with sugar or refine carbs, can help to rinse away food particles and bacteria that might otherwise cling to your teeth.
How Can You Tell if You Have a Cavity or Gum Disease?
The sad truth of the matter is that you cannot diagnose your own cavities. Most people do not experience any symptoms unless a cavity completely penetrates the enamel and becomes quite large and deep. And most people cannot tell if the plaque formation on their teeth is resulting in gum disease.
During your check up, Dr. Bryce will thoroughly search for tooth decay and gum disease caused by plaque formation. He often makes use of DIAGNOdent technology, which uses a laser to highlight spots of decay, even before the decay is detectable via traditional diagnostic methods, such as X-Rays or dental probes. If his exam reveals any areas for concern, he will form a treatment plan to put a stop to the problem and preserve your oral health.
Excessive carbs in your diet are a sneaky problem! Watching what and when you eat, as well as regularly visiting Dr. Bryce, can help you maintain a healthy smile.
More about Dr. Bryce
Dr. Robert Bryce is one of the most accomplished dentists in the Potomac Falls/Sterling area. In fact, he is one of only a handful of dentists worldwide who have achieved Mastership status with the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies. If you have concerns about cavities or anything else that relates to your oral health, he would be pleased to speak with you. Contact our office at 571-434-8000.