What Are the Effects of Sugar on Teeth?

Summer is here, and so is the ice cream! What better way to spend a Tucson summer than hanging out by the pool with some popsicles, a double scoop, or maybe a refreshing, cold soda?

Unfortunately, your teeth don’t feel the same way about the summertime. This is because, for your mouth, summer is a season of war between tooth-eroding acids and your enamel-building saliva. And guess what? Sugar is fuel for the enemy.

Sure, everyone knows that sugar can be bad for your teeth. The problem is it tastes so good. So, how exactly does sugar contribute to tooth decay, and is there anything we can do to fight it so we can still enjoy the occasional waffle cone? First, let’s look at how cavities form and how sugar contributes to the cavity forming process. Next, we’ll have some tips to help you keep your smile looking beautiful all summer long.

How Cavities Form?

If you’re a clean freak, we have bad news for you. You have a dirty mouth. A dirty mouth filled to the brim with bacteria. Before you break out the soap and start scrubbing, understand that many of these bacteria are actually good for you and you need them to be healthy. On the other hand, there are plenty of harmful bacteria in there as well. These bad bacteria use sugar as fuel to create acids which eat away at the outer layer of your tooth.

Think of how termites can eat through wood over time, creating lots of damage that can eventually make the wood useless. The acid produced by bacteria is doing something similar. As the acids eat through your teeth, they can cause a lot of pain, and worse, permanent damage. The process of acids eroding your enamel is called demineralization.

Like we said at the beginning, though, summertime is a war in your mouth. On the opposing side of the harmful bacteria are the good guys—saliva. Yep, your spit is the hero of this story.

Saliva contains calcium and other minerals that your mouth uses to rebuild your teeth and keep them healthy. The problem is, they can only do so much damage control. The more sugar you have in your mouth, the more fuel bacteria have to produce more acid—and this makes work difficult for your saliva to the point where it can’t keep up.

Tips for Preventing Cavities

The easy solution to this is the standard dentist answer—eat less sugar! Of course, it can be difficult to avoid sweets all the time. That’s why we have the standard dentist answer number two: brush every day. You don’t have to wait until morning or night to do it either. Brushing immediately after eating something sugary can go a long way to keeping excess sugar out of your mouth, so the harmful bacteria have little to feed on. If you can’t brush right away, rinsing your mouth out with water can help as well.

Lastly, if you’re experiencing any tooth pain or suspect you might have a cavity, make an appointment with us. The sooner, the better so we can catch the cavity before it gets too far out of hand.

Don’t let acid and cavities win the war in your mouth this year. Give your teeth a fighting chance so they can live to see another summer as perfect as your smile. Book an appointment with North Pointe Dental online now!

Five Reasons Why You Should Floss Every Day

Our mouths are something we use every day, so taking care of it should always be a top priority. Taking care of your mouth means you should routinely brush, floss, use mouthwash, and even visually check the appearance of your mouth for anything out of the ordinary. Believe it or not, one can tell a lot about the overall health of an individual just by looking into their mouth. When your dentist peers into your mouth they aren’t just looking at your teeth – instead they are looking outside the box as well for anything out of the ordinary that may signal a more serious underlying health condition – including things such as redness, swelling, bumps, bad breath, sores, and more. Just by looking inside the mouth, dentists can tell how well an individual is hydrated, and if they are showing signs of oral cancer, diabetes, anemia, autoimmune diseases, acid reflux disease, or kidney disease.

Amazing, right? Issues within the mouth can indicate a variety of underlying health conditions, and with your routine dental exam, you may be able to catch them early and intervene before the illness spirals out of control. Now that you know this, please don’t keep rescheduling your next routine office visit for cleaning because your oral health is essential. Keep in mind that oral issues can develop quickly and progress just the same, and the scary thing is you may not even notice them until maybe they cause you pain – which then may be too late.

Good oral health not only involves brushing your teeth daily, but optimal oral hygiene also includes using mouthwash, flossing, and even doing a visual check of your mouth and gums on a routine basis to make sure everything looks “normal” for you. The benefits of brushing the teeth are obvious, but why is flossing so important? I mean it is two more minutes of your time that could be spent elsewhere since you’re probably always in a hurry – plus what does flossing do anyways? Listen up, because there are some reasons why you should never skip out on flossing.

One. Flossing does about 40 percent of the work that is required to remove all that sticky, harsh bacteria from your mouth and teeth that can turn into plaque. plaque is that nasty substance that settles quickly onto your teeth causes cavities, irritates the gums and can lead to gum disease. Plaque starts to harden within hours of that last time you ate, and once 48 hours have passed, that nasty substance will be stuck to your teeth quite firmly, leaving a professional cleaning the best way to remove it. Each one of your teeth has a total of 5 surfaces, and if you skip out on flossing at least two whole surfaces do not get cleaned, and over time all that bacteria builds, and builds, and builds and – well you know – causes bad things to happen.

Two. Your gums really will stop bleeding. Are you hesitant to floss because you see blood each time you do? The truth is if you routinely floss the bleeding will stop because if the bacteria around your gum line is kept to a minimum, the fewer blood cells your body will have to send to the area to fight off the bacteria. Therefore, the more you floss, the less blood you’ll see. Try it for yourself!

Three. The rest of your body will thank you. The more clean and healthy your mouth is, the better off you are at reducing your chances at predisposing yourself to more severe health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and more. Also, if you’ve already been unfortunate enough to have one of these illnesses, improvement of your oral health may help to improve and maintain your overall health, and possibly even slow the progression of the disease.

Four. “Cavity” is that word you hate to hear when you are the one laying in the dentist chair. Well, not only can cavities form on one tooth, but they can also develop in the crevices between your teeth. That is why flossing in between your teeth to clean out all that unwanted bacteria is so important, because a cavity between two teeth can lead to even more damage to your teeth and lead to more pain, dentist visits, and money spent for you.

Five. Pregnant or plan to become pregnant? You’ll be flossing for two; gum disease puts you at risk for prematurity and low birth weight in your vulnerable infant. Being a great mom doesn’t start when your child is born. Instead, it begins even before you conceive. You must take care of your body as well as you can to provide for a healthy environment for your offspring.

So now you can decide, is there anything satisfying or rewarding that comes from flossing your teeth? The final decision to floss your teeth is ultimately up to you, but the benefits of taking that extra couple minutes in front of the mirror could do wonders for your oral health and your overall health. Make flossing a part of your routine and schedule a routine checkup with North Pointe Dental today. Your body, your health, and even those around you will greatly appreciate it!

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

How often do you use your mouth in a day? How often do you eat, drink, or speak? How often do you smile? These sound like silly questions, right? But we often underestimate and undervalue the importance of our mouths and oral care. This is probably why oral cancer is often overlooked until it is, unfortunately, too late.

This April, dentists across the country are spreading awareness to keep our nation’s mouths cancer free.

Oral cavity cancer (oral cancer, for short) is a cancer that starts in the mouth while oropharyngeal cancer begins in the soft part behind the roof of your mouth and includes your tonsils and throat.

According to the American Cancer Society, over 53,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer in 2019—1 in 5 of these cases will be fatal. The death rate has generally been decreasing over the past 30 years, but there is still a long way to go before we have it beat.

The reason these two cancers have such a high mortality rate is that they are often discovered too late in their development. That is why recognizing the causes and detection methods are so important!

Causes of Oral Cancer

While scientists are still researching the exact cause, they have pinpointed several lifestyle actions that significantly increase oral cancer risk.

Both tobacco and alcohol use skyrocket the chances of tumors developing in your mouth. Tobacco directly damages the DNA in your cells, causing them to be malformed when they reproduce. Alcohol, on the other hand, does not directly damage DNA but instead helps damaging chemicals (like those in tobacco) to access cell DNA more easily.

Doctors have also discovered that human papillomavirus (HPV) produces proteins that cause abnormalities in cell growth. For that reason, oral HPV infection is understood to be a third contributor to oral cancer after tobacco and alcohol.

Detection

Like with any illness, early detection of oral and oropharyngeal cancer is critical. The two most common symptoms you may notice is a mouth sore that does not heal for at least two weeks or persistent mouth pain. Some other things you may notice are trouble chewing, swallowing, or moving the jaw and tongue. Lastly, as with most cancers, a lump forming in your mouth or throat is another possible sign.

While these are some of the more common symptoms, a complete list can be found on the American Cancer Society site. If you show any of these symptoms for longer than two weeks, you should get screened.

Our smiles are important. It’s how we make friends, strike impressions, and communicate feelings. Our mouth is what lets us eat, breathe, and live. With proper knowledge and early detection, we can go from 1 in 5 cases of oral cancer being fatal to zero. Contact North Pointe Dental today to schedule your oral cancer screening.

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