Your Teeth at Easter
It’s almost that time of the year again, the Easter long-weekend. Filled with parties and Easter egg hunts it is easy to over indulge over the Easter holiday period. Chocolate Easter eggs and other delicious treats are everywhere and very easily accessible. Whether it be in the shops or at family and friends houses, it can be hard to say 'no' when you are constantly offered these little goodies. Together with sharing over indulgent meals, the Easter season is not a great time for our teeth but with a bit of extra knowledge and planning, it is easy to minimise the damage caused to our teeth.
What is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in the mouth that use sugar from foods and drinks to produce acids that dissolve and damage the teeth.
One thing we drink when we’re celebrating tends to be soft drinks. Soft drinks have high levels of sugar and can significantly contribute to tooth decay. Regular and ‘diet' soft drinks, fruit juices and cordials also have high acid levels that can cause tooth erosion (see our blog on erosion for more information).
Regular loss of enamel can lead to cavities and can cause exposure of the inner layers of the tooth which may become sensitive and painful. Prevention of enamel loss is very important for the long-term health of your teeth.
Each acid attack lasts for around 20 minutes. Every time you take a sip of the drink, the acid damage begins over again. This is why it is important to ensure that children are not snacking on their sweets and sipping on sweetened drinks for a long period of time.
According to the Australian Dental Association “over 24,000 children aged 14 years or under were admitted to hospital last year due to dental conditions that were potentially preventable”.
“Over half of six-year-olds have experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth and up to half of 12-year-olds have experienced tooth decay in their permanent teeth.
Once a tooth experiences decay, it usually requires a lifetime of management, not to mention physical discomfort, and also may impact on that person’s smile”.
How to fight tooth decay and erosion
Enjoy your Easter eggs in moderation. You can say ‘no’ to chocolate, however, we all know this is difficult. Therefore, it us best to limit your Easter eggs to meal times to reduce the sugar attack on your teeth. It is also worth while taking a ‘sugar break’ for the week leading up to and following Easter, this allows us to off-set the sugar hits.
Drink soft drinks in moderation, if at all, and use a straw so your teeth are less exposed to the sugar and acid in the drink. Do not sip on soft drink and drink it during meal times. Also, take a drink of water, preferably tap water that has been fluoridated, after a sugary or acidic drink to help rinse out your mouth and dilute the sugars.
Protect your teeth by brushing with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day, and after drinking sugary or acidic beverages, don't brush your teeth right away. Wait at least thirty minutes so your teeth can recover, and your enamel can reharden before you brush them and never drink sugary or acidic drinks before you go to bed. If you do so, the liquid will pool in your mouth, coating your teeth with sugar and acid. Drink water instead. It has no acid, no sugar and no calories.
You could also consider giving your children alternatives to sweets including toys, games or books to limit the number of sweets they have access to.
There is no reason why the Easter period cannot be enjoyed by everyone as long as the sweets are consumed in moderation and good oral hygiene habits are maintained.