TWU Offers Little Chapel Wedding Package
Holiday Sweets Can Be
Tough On Teeth
DENTON — Visions
of sugarplums — and cakes and cookies —dance in the
heads of children and adults alike during the holiday season. All
that sweetness can take a toll on teeth, however.
Though most people associate
sugar with cavities, Dr. Nancy Glick, a dental hygiene professor
at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, says cooked starches
as well as foods containing sugar make up fermentable carbohydrates,
one of three elements that must be present for decay to occur.
Dr. Glick said other
links in the “chain of decay” are acid-producing oral
bacteria and a susceptible tooth surface, or one that has a low-fluoride
content. Removing any of these three links can help prevent tooth
decay, she said. However, she noted that reducing fermentable carbohydrates
may not be a practical approach, “especially for adults, because
our dietary habits are pretty set.”
Strengthening the tooth
surface can be achieved through brushing with a fluoride toothpaste,
she said. Topical fluorides applied in a dentist’s office
and over-the-counter fluoride rinses also may be beneficial.
Reducing acid-producing bacteria — another link in the “chain
of decay” — calls for conscientious oral hygiene, which
means brushing and flossing correctly, Dr. Glick said.
Proper brushing and flossing
isn’t always possible during the hectic holiday season, but
Dr. Glick said there are other steps people can take to ward off
If holiday parties feature
an assortment of food, such as fresh fruit and vegetable plates
or meat and cheese platters, Dr. Glick recommends sampling some
of those foods in addition to cookies and candy that contain sugar.
“Sugar is particularly
harmful if eaten between meals,” she said. “If it is
eaten in combination with other foods, however, sugar loses some
of its decay potential.”
Though brushing and flossing
are the best way to prevent cavities, time and place don’t
always allow for complete dental care. Dr. Glick recommends rinsing
your mouth with water or chewing sugarless gum when brushing isn’t
possible. Rinsing dilutes the amount of acid in the mouth, she said,
and chewing sugarless gum stimulates the flow of saliva, which has
many good properties that prevent decay.
Those with good eating
habits throughout the year shouldn’t worry about indulging
a bit over the holidays, Dr. Glick said, adding that this is true
for children as well as adults. Children who have good eating habits
and who practice good oral hygiene won’t be harmed by occasional
sweets, she said.
“Decay is a long, slow process — it takes place over
months to years,” she said. Proper brushing, flossing and
diet all play a role in interrupting that process and promoting
good dental health.
Dr. Nancy Glick, a dental hygiene professor at Texas Woman’s
University, offers the following brushing tips for good dental health:
- Place the brush where
the tooth and gums meet, holding the brush at a 45-degree angle
to the tooth. The highest concentration of bacteria is found where
the tooth and gums meet, Dr. Glick said. After placing the brush,
move it gently back and forth in short, vibrating strokes for
a count of 10. Both the outer and inner tooth surfaces should
be brushed in this manner.
- Brushing the tongue
not only helps freshen breath; it also helps prevent tooth decay
by reducing bacteria in the mouth.
- Brush and floss at
bedtime. Saliva, which dilutes and neutralizes decay-producing
acids, is reduced while we sleep. Brushing at bedtime lowers the
bacterial count in the mouth and helps prevent cavities from forming.
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