Many young adults leave school with very few fillings and good oral health, what can go wrong?
Things can be too good; too easy. You may have had years of regular dental visits without dental problems. Protected by fluoride in the water supply and in toothpaste, you become independent and confident that your teeth are “bullet-proof”… but are they? Consider the following lifestyle changes…
Moving out of home, finding a job, grazing instead of regular meals, eating on the run, eating disorders, budget problems, too busy to make time to visit the dentist, fast food, junk food, convenience food, sweet snacks and soft drinks, stress, smoking and/or drug use, skipping brushing.
We can easily get into the habit of drinking sugary or acidic drinks or snacking on sweet foods continually, without realizing that we are risking major teeth problems.
Every time we eat or drink, our teeth are under attack from food and plaque acids, produced from carbohydrates and sugars, by the bacteria in our mouth. The acid attack lasts for about 20 minutes, until your saliva dilutes and washes away the food particles. The mouth now enters recovery mode… tiny quantities of tooth minerals dissolved during the acid attack phase are replaced and rebuilt, but only if there is enough time before the next acid attack! Imagine that there is a constant balancing act between demineralisation (ie softening of teeth) and remineralisation (ie hardening of teeth). Continual acid attack destroys the balancing act and below the tooth surface, a honeycomb effect of tiny holes forms. The tooth becomes fragile and over that time the weakened structure caves in. This is when you actually become aware that you have a hole in your tooth… even though your tooth has in fact been progressively weakened by constant acid attacks. Once a cavity has formed and penetrated the relatively tough outer enamel layer of the tooth, the path is open for bacteria to enter which speeds up the decay process dramatically.
What to do?
Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, have regular meals and eating habits, maintain regular preventive dental visits, don’t skip regular toothbrushing even if you have had a big night out, avoid sticky snacks and drinks, snack wisely, cut out sugar in your tea and coffee, limit soft drinks, sports drinks and cordial, spit and don’t rinse after brushing if you’ve had a “sweet “day, and use a fluoride mouthrinse or a smear of toothpaste after sweet foods.
Remember, if you are craving sweets it is much better for your teeth to eat the whole bag of lollies in one session rather than have a few lollies every half hour all day!
Simone Ricketts (Smile by Design)