Tooth Decay and How to Avoid It. The Chemistry Behind It All.
(Keeping the Evil Spirits Away)
Background: The plaque in your mouth is full of millions of bacteria. When you eat, the bacteria eat. The bacteria eat the same thing you eat and at the same time. Some hours after you eat you typically go to a private little room and take care of some “private” business. We will call this stuff “toxins” because it is a polite way to describe what it is. The bacteria produce toxins within seconds of eating! The toxins are very acidic and much stronger than the acid in your car battery.
Process: This acid attacks the teeth by pulling the calcium and phosphorus out of the crystal of the teeth. About 20 to 30 minutes after you are done eating the saliva has neutralized the acid and the PH (acidity) surrounding your teeth ha been raised to a neutral level. At this point, the calcium and phosphorus are finally able to start going back into your teeth. The downside is that it goes into the teeth 10 to 100 times slower than it came out. This is the classic “tortoise and hare” issue. The calcium and phosphorus go out really fast and goes back in really slow; therefore you have to provide l-o-n-g periods of time to put back into the teeth that which came out really fast. The calcium and phosphorus are always going to come out at your meals due to your need to eat. It is necessary for you to then clean your teeth and thoroughly as possible (even if that is only swishing with water several times and swallowing it). Between your meals, you must stay away from foods containing sugar… just about everything! I recommend plain water, black coffee, and unsweet tea for between meal fluids. Remember that soda and candy are not the only “foods” to get sugar on your teeth. Milk, fruit and fruit juices are loaded with sugar. Coffee creamers also commonly have high amounts of sugar. Gum (except those with Xylitol sweetener), wine and all other alcoholic beverages are also very high in sugar. The bacteria don’t care if you eat sucrose, glucose, galactose, fructose or virtually any other type of sugar; they use it all and convert it to acid.
Summary: Keep your teeth clean (do what the hygienist tells you to do. She is an expert and knows what she is talking about). Eat healthy; eat anything you want at your meals. Clean your teeth after meals and then have only plain water, black coffee and unsweet tea between your meals and NEVER go to bed with dirty teeth. If you clean your teeth before bed you are getting 8 hours right off the top for the teeth to remineralize and put the calcium and phosphorus that came out of the teeth during your meals that day, back into the teeth. Add that to the remineralization that can take place between meals and you will almost certainly “Keep the Evil Spirits Away”.
If you would like to know more about how you can help your smile, please feel free to give Olsen Taylor General Dentistry a call at 704-662-9111 today! Our office in Mooresville, North Carolina, will be happy to help and give you tips on how to have your best smile yet!