Gingerbread not healthy teeth food, cinnamon stars and stolen – the Christmas season entices with many sweet temptations. These are not only a challenge for the slimline but can also damage the teeth and dentures in case of insufficient care. Above all, the sugar contained in the treats is guilty, which not only turns into hip gold but also provides a welcome source of nutrients for bacteria in the mouth. However, you do not have to do without sweets completely if you follow some important rules.
Sweeter the bells never sound … Why and when are sweets unhealthy?
Not only the bells in the famous Christmas song by Friedrich Wilhelm Kritzinger sound particularly cute in the (pre-) Christmas time, also the sugar consumption rises rapidly in the weeks before Christmas. On the Christmas markets of the Republic smells of mulled wine, roasted almonds and freshly baked Christmas sugar cookies and months before expanding the supermarkets their assortments of dominoes, Santa Claus made of chocolate and speculaas. But while the excess pounds of chewed-up food during the cold season can be removed with exercise, discipline or diet, sugar, acid and starchy foods can leave permanent marks on the teeth.
The reason for this lies in the oral flora, ie the bacteria in the oral cavity. Many of the microorganisms that live there are important for health, food breakdown, and our immune system, but some strains of bacteria can, unfortunately, attack the teeth. In particular, the type Streptococcus mutans is responsible for tooth damage, more precisely its metabolites. The bacteria feed on carbohydrates, which are contained in many foods, in particularly high concentrations in sugar and white flour. Bacterial digestion produces organic acids that attack the hard tooth substance and dissolve the minerals contained in it.
Immediately after consumption of sweet pastries, sodas or other sweet temptations, the pH in the mouth decreases, it develops an acidic environment. In the healthy teeth mouth, the pH is between six and seven, ie in the chemically neutral range. Carbohydrates Foods like sugar reduce the pH in the mouth to the acidic range, its value is then between four and five. However, saliva can neutralize these acids and remineralize the teeth – provided they have enough time and bacterial acid production is not re-stimulated by eating more sweets.
Your Teeth Will Be Healthy Through The Christmas Season
In addition to carbohydrates such as sugar, acidic foods and drinks can also lower the pH in the mouth and thus additionally burden the tooth enamel. The sweet-tasting mulled wine due to the addition of plenty of sugar, for example, has a pH of four, so it is clearly in the acidic and thus tooth-damaging area. Fruit juices, spritzers, and sodas can be even more acidic, even if they do not taste that way – again due to the high sugar content. And even sugar-free mineral water can damage the teeth, as it contains dissolved carbon dioxide.
The most important and most effective caries prevention is the continuous oral care with toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss. If you clean your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day (preferably with an electric toothbrush and soft to medium-hard bristles) you also ensure that harmful bacteria in the mouth can not multiply uncontrollably. Even better, of course, is brushing your teeth after each meal, and it is better to always spend some time so that the saliva can first neutralize the pH in the mouth before mechanically cleaning the tooth surface. This is especially true if you consume sour drinks and food, wait half an hour to protect your teeth.
To speed up the neutralization, you can also drink a glass of tap water or still mineral water and rinse your mouth with it. Sugar-free chewing gum or lozenges also help because they stimulate the production of saliva. In addition, you should frequently use foods that protect the tooth enamel, such as onions, chives or garlic, in your diet: they contain sulfides that have an antibacterial effect and thus help to keep the harmful bacterial strains in check. The natural sugar substitute xylitol not only tastes pleasantly sweet but also actively protects the tooth enamel.
The more often you eat sweet or sour foods or drinks on the day, the more the pH drops in your mouth. Therefore, do not nibble cookies and other sweet treats several times a day or between meals, and certainly not after evening tooth brushing. Because then the leftovers can affect the teeth all night and have devastating consequences in the long run.
And last but not least, you should regularly go to the check-up for a dentist and have your tooth surfaces and interdental spaces cleaned professionally at least once a year. This also includes the removal of tartar, which is not only a danger to the teeth but also for the gums and also does not look very attractive.
Keeping these tips in mind will not only make your teeth healthy teeth through the Christmas season but will last for years and decades.