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How to Kill Sugar with Kindness: Dental Hygiene

October is National Dental Hygiene Month and on October 6, we celebrate Child Health Day! Are you teaching your kids how to prevent tooth decay with dental hygiene?

Growing up, every child hears their parents’ warnings: eating sugar will rot your teeth! The surprising fact is that sugar alone does not cause tooth decay, but it is linked to the production of acid that does. The harmful effects of sugar on teeth and its role in cavity development does not mean you should be teaching your kids to eliminate sugar entirely, however. Teaching them to limit their teeth’s exposure to sugar by following a clean diet and implementing the right oral hygiene routine will significantly reduce the chances of tooth decay — and that is something to smile about.

How Sugar Causes Tooth Decay

The harmful effects of sugar on teeth all starts with the bacteria that naturally develops in your mouth. When you eat sugary foods or drink sugar-sweetened beverages, they trigger the bacteria to manufacture acid in order to process the sugar. If you allow the acid to remain in your mouth long enough, this builds up into the harmful plaque that causes tooth decay. By thoroughly flossing and brushing your teeth twice a day, you brush away the plaque before it sticks to your teeth.

Without practicing good dental hygiene, eventually this acid can eat through your tooth enamel, creating small holes that get larger over time. Those holes provide a haven for more acid-producing bacteria, and the result is cavities that decay your teeth over time if left untreated.

Conditions That Can Arise

Because cavities can lead to other dental health issues, it is vital to prevent them in the first place or, at the very least, have them treated by your dentist immediately. Once tooth decay has developed, it can cause lasting, critical conditions for both adults and children. The complications brought on by tooth decay, such as pain, infections, chewing problems, broken teeth, and displacement of permanent teeth, are more than irritating inconveniences. They can lead to more severe conditions including pain persistent enough to interfere with your quality of life, such as tooth loss, nutrition issues, and weight loss.

Importance of Oral Hygiene

Limiting the amount of sweets you eat will help reduce the harmful effects of sugar on teeth, but following an oral hygiene routine and maintaining good dental care will protect your teeth even more. Start teaching your kids healthy dental habits by regimenting a routine of brushing teeth twice a day with a dentist-recommended fluoride toothpaste. Show them how to floss in order to get to the tight spots that a toothbrush can’t reach. You may also want to consider dental sealants as a preventative step to provide additional protection in the cracks and crevices of your family’s teeth.

The most important aspect of your dental hygiene is having your teeth professionally cleaned on a regular basis. Often during a semi-annual cleaning, your dental hygienist will discover small cavities or other dental problems that you aren’t aware of. Schedule an appointment at Arkansas Family Dental to have your teeth examined by a dental hygienist or call 501.683.8886 to prevent the harmful effects of sugar on your teeth.
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Tina Nichols

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