Your teeth have enemies — bacteria that feed on biofilm, a thin layer of food remnant known as plaque that sticks to your teeth, are one such example. After ingestion, these bacteria produce acid, which can erode your teeth’s protective enamel and lead to tooth decay.
Fortunately, you have a weapon against enamel loss already at work in your mouth — saliva. Saliva neutralizes high levels of acid, as well as restores some of the enamel’s mineral content lost when the mouth is too acidic (re-mineralization).
Unfortunately, saliva can be overwhelmed if your mouth is chronically acidic. Here’s how you can help this powerful ally protect your enamel and stop tooth decay with better hygiene and eating habits:
Remove bacterial plaque daily. You should floss and brush with fluoride toothpaste everyday to remove plaque. It’s also recommended that you visit us twice a year for professional cleanings to remove hard to reach plaque. We can also train you on how to properly floss and brush.
Wait an hour after eating to brush. It may sound counterintuitive, but brushing immediately after you eat can do more harm than good. The mouth is naturally acidic just after eating and some degree of enamel softening usually occurs. It takes a half hour or so for saliva to restore the mouth’s pH balance and re-mineralize the enamel. If you brush before then, you may brush away some of the softened enamel.
Limit sweets to mealtimes. Constantly snacking on sweets (or sipping sodas, sports or energy drinks) will expose your teeth to a chronic high level of acid — and saliva can’t keep up in neutralizing it. If you can’t abstain from sugar, at least limit your consumption to mealtime. It’s also a good habit to rinse out your mouth with clear water after drinking an acidic drink to flush out excess acid.
Boost saliva content with supplements. If you suffer from insufficient saliva production or dry mouth, try an artificial saliva supplement. Chewing xylitol gum can also help boost saliva production, as well as inhibit the growth of infection-causing bacteria. We’ll be glad to advise you on the use of these products.