Here are 4 ways to protect your teeth this Diwali while gorging those delicious sweets. We do understand they are too tempting!
The festive season is coming up, giving us so much to look forward to! Spring cleaning, dazzling decorations, sales and discounts, buying presents for near and dear ones, planning and attending parties. It also offers plenty of opportunities to celebrate with delectable food, especially sweets. Yes, traditional sweets and delicacies are an integral part of all Indian festivals; and if you have a sweet tooth, it is indeed hard to stay away from mouth-watering sweet treats isn’t it?
Just as you love snacking on starchy/ sugary snacks during celebrations, bacteria in your mouth enjoy it too. They go crazy over the sugar on your teeth and destroy them. So, does that mean giving up your favorite sweets or desserts? No, it just means you find ways to relish them by following some of these simple steps.
The main cause of tooth decay is frequent consumption of sugary food, sweets and drinks. A lot of us might believe that adding less sugar to your drinks-tea/ coffee, making sweets with less sugar or having just a small bite of a sugary treat will do less harm to your teeth. It is not so! Whether you have one bite, one spoonful or a boxful, the effect on your teeth remains the same.
It is not about the quantity but about the frequency. For example- if you were to have a bar of chocolate or a box of sweets, you must avoid frequent snacking; nibbling on them all day or having them in several sessions. Rather, try having it in one go or sitting. You need to consider sugar exposure taking into account the amount of time and not the amount of sugar that comes in contact with your teeth.
Every time you eat sugar, the bacteria in your mouth feed on it and as they digest it, they produce acid. So, if you drink/eat sweet things throughout the day, your saliva does not get enough time to neutralize the acid. Frequent acid attacks over a period of time, make your teeth weak and vulnerable to tooth decay.
It is definitely safer to have drinks like coffee (which causes stains), sweetened juices, sports and energy drinks or carbonated drinks, with a straw. This may not completely eliminate contact of the drink with your teeth; but the straw will lessen the exposure of the drink as it goes from cup to your throat. You can wash down the drink with a glass of water to neutralize the acid.
The worst thing that can wreck your teeth is having sweets between your meals as stand-alone snacks. For example- munching a packet of biscuits in the morning, grabbing a pastry or donut mid morning, sipping on fizzy drinks like colas all day while working.
The best time to satisfy your sweet cravings is having it as part of a meal. The other foods or beverages you have along with it will help keep the sugar from clinging to your teeth and also reduce its effect. Try nibbling on cheese as it helps neutralize the acid (even a small piece would do).
Treating children with occasional sweet treats is fine, but rewarding, encouraging or keeping them busy with sweets treats simply sends the wrong health message; instead spend time playing with them and reward them with words. Keep them away from sugar just before their bedtime. Adding sugar to their milk during the night or giving them sticky sweets like candy (which sticks to their teeth longer)is not a good idea because while you are asleep the mouth produces less saliva. The acids can remain on the teeth and in your mouth even after brushing!
Avoid long gaps between brushing, over brushing or more than the recommended number of times by your dentist. Most importantly, do not brush your teeth right after you have just had something sweet like mithai, cake, cookie/ candy/ice-cream, something acidic like vinegar or even citrus fruit (orange, sweet lime).
Rinse your mouth thoroughly with lukewarm water. Wait for an hour; allow your teeth to settle otherwise you could do more damage. Use toothpaste which contains fluoride. The most important thing to remember while brushing is to remove all of the plaque which collects on your teeth. The thin white layer/ coating which contains the bad bacteria needs to go.
Do not forget to rinse your gums, clean your tongue with a tongue cleaner and follow it up with a good fluoride mouthwash.
Lastly but most importantly- floss! All it takes is a few minutes. Flossing reaches where your toothbrush cannot and removes plaque between the teeth. We all know the importance of flossing yet either we are too lazy or too busy and skip this all important step.
So, go ahead make the most of this festive season; enjoy the good times with your family, friends and food. Take plenty of selfies and see your happy self smiling back. Say cheese!
Image via Shutterstock.
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