Historically, what people have feared about seeing the dentist is to hear that they have a cavity or two. In the last several decades, the focus of dental care has seemingly revolved around preventing, detecting, and treating cavities, and then gum disease, or the two together. In any case, more extensive treatments like root canal therapy have also tended to revolve around tooth decay that had gone untreated. Cavities! Cavities! Cavities! These frustrating little problems seem to be the biggest concern facing patients of all ages! But are they?
Decay or Erosion: Which is Worse?
We won’t ask you to choose. Both are unappealing problems. A cavity causes your teeth to become sensitive. So does enamel erosion. Cavities can lead to a toothache and the need for dental treatment. Erosion, on the other hand, can eventually reduce surface enamel to such a degree that your teeth appear persistently yellow and dull. This isn’t the same thing as discoloration; it is the off-white dentin showing through. The more that enamel erodes, the less protective it is, and the more susceptible your teeth are to cracks and chips. Ultimately, both decay and erosion are problems you want to avoid. Fortunately, you can. You just need to know what causes them.
A New Spin on Prevention?
Most patients still think that to avoid cavities means to avoid sugar. There is value to this, but there’s more. In fact, this drive to cut sugar consumption may have played a part in the rise of tooth erosion in recent years. Instead of drinking sugary soda, people are consuming diet varieties. There is no difference between the two as far as erosion is concerned. In fact, there is no difference between a sugar-filled can of soda and a bottled sports drink. Both are filled with acidic ingredients. When substances like ascorbic or citric acid sit on teeth, enamel quickly becomes soft and worn down. When we say quickly, we mean within about 7 days, if such beverages are consumed daily.
Should you avoid sugar? Yes. Your teeth will also benefit from:
- Rinsing your mouth if you do consume sugar or any acidic food or beverage (like coffee!).
- Drinking more water throughout the day to maintain better pH balance.
- Consuming calcium-rich foods daily.
- Obtaining routine dental care every six months.
Do you need a Shakopee dentist to help you maintain optimal oral health? Give us a call at (952) 445-6657.