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Most of America Has Tooth Decay
You have probably heard the saying, “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” Well, turns out this saying is false. Actually, an apple a day will increase the sugar levels in your mouth and encourage plaque to build up in your mouth. Due to this plaque, your mouth can become vulnerable to tooth decay and develop. In a recent study, it was published that nearly the entire adult population of the United States has had dental caries, or cavities.
Interestingly enough, though most of the population of America has had a cavity at some point, not many people know what cavities are. In this blog, we will discuss what a cavity is and what causes them. We will go over how to have them treated and great tips to prevent them in the future.
What is a Cavity?
Cavities are the result of microbes building up in your mouth. Shortly after we are born, microbes start to grow in our mouth. The more sugar we eat, the more the microbes are allowed to grow. Once the community of microbes becomes too great, they can cause the initial phases of a cavity. If you have a sugar-based diet and consume many sugary items, this can only further contribute to the development of a cavity. The sugar in your mouth can become concentrated and cause an influx of bacteria called mutans streptococci. The bacteria, combined with the microbes already in your smile them create byproducts, such as lactic acid. This acidic solution is erosive to your teeth but will not affect the bacteria in any way. While your teeth have defense systems in place, such as a protective coat called the enamel, is no match for lactic acid. In fact, while acid builds in your mouth is will wear away your natural enamel. Because your teeth have no defense, bacteria can then eat away in the crevices of your tooth and infect the second layer of your tooth called dentin. If the bacteria makes it past the dentin layer into where the nerves and the central tissue of the tooth, then you will have a toothache and intense pain.
How Common Are Cavities?
In a study completed in 2015, 91 percent of people in America have dental cavities. And, this number is suspected to have risen by 2018. Because Americans adhere to a diet of sugar and carbohydrates, bacteria is in abundance. It is difficult to fend off dental bacteria and cavities, especially when so much of American diet includes harmful ingredients.
As you age, and your diet changes, you are at greater risk for cavities. As a child, you will be subjected to sugar content, but your enamel is at its peak condition, therefore you are at less risk for a cavity. As you age, especially when in you’re in your teenage years, your teeth can undergo a lot of “abuse” and your enamel erode away. Once the enamel is gone, your teeth are “sitting ducks” for any bacteria. The less enamel protection you have, the less protection you will have and the more likely you will have a cavity.
Preventing a Cavity
Since cavities are caused by ingesting sugar, it is always a good practice to limit the amount of sugar you are eating or even drinking. In America, most of the products we eat and drink have copious amounts of sugar in them. In fact, some products even have additive sugar content in them, which simply means more sugar is piled into the recipe to make them even sweeter.
Your body doesn’t need that much sugar to survive, and most of the sugars you ingest from day-to-day aren’t good for you anyway. It has been hypothesized that some brands add sugar to their products to make them sweet, tasty, and addictive. But, it is no secret that sugar is addictive. In fact, a study conducted on lab rats showed that rats developed more addictive behaviors when introduced to sugar, rather than cocaine. This can be problematic information for most to digest, especially when sugar is in so many products we eat every day. Sugar, unfortunately, is a major American food group.
To limit the likelihood of getting a cavity, it is best that you cut sugar from your diet. Of course, cutting sugar out of your diet altogether could be more challenging than you might think. Because artificial sugars are hidden in most sodas, juices, and even foods you ingest, cutting sugar can be problematic. If you don’t believe you can cut sugar completely out of your diet, you can still eat small traces of sugar. Naturally, our bodies crave sugars that appear in nature, such as in fruits and natural juices. However, eating too many fruits, like an apple day, can be too much for your teeth. So the saying “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away” is actually false. If you eat copious amounts of sugar, even naturally-made sugars, you and your dentist might have to meet to discuss the well-being of your teeth.
Where is Your Sugar Coming From?
One way to prevent cavities is by limiting your sugar intake. But how can you limit the amounts of sugar you are ingesting, if you don’t know what foods and drinks to avoid? Well, below are a list of some of the foods, drinks, and even sauces to stay away from in order to protect your teeth from cavities.
- Sports Drinks
- Chocolate Milk
- Flavored Coffees
- Protein Bars
- Breakfast Cereal
This is just a small list of some of the most sugary items you may eat or drink. Most of the items on our list have “hidden sugars” that can decay and degrade the quality of your teeth.
Sports Drinks: Even though you might be working out, sports drinks are full of sugar. Brands, like Gatorade, Powerade, and even simple drinks like Vitamin Water, all produce drink formulas that are extremely sugary and could counteract your workout. After all, you workout to lose weight, not pile it on in “sugar weight.”
Chocolate Milk: Chocolate milk has plenty of sugar in it. Naturally, milk has sugars in it, however, the chocolate flavoring that is added to the milk adds more unnecessary sugar to the drink.
Ketchup: Ketchup and fries are a double-whammy to your health. For one, french fries are fried in oil which can add fat to your body and clog your arteries. Second, if you dip your fries in ketchup, you will be adding large amounts of sugar to your diet.
Flavored Coffees: That’s right, Starbucks is out to get you. Your morning latte has 18 grams of sugar in it — that is almost the total amount of sugar you should have in one day. For instance, women are only supposed to have 25 grams of sugar, while men can have 35 grams of sugar. With this being said, one latte only equals your total sugar intake for the day.
Protein Bars: Protein bars are misleading because you would assume something with protein in it would be healthy for you — false! Some protein bar companies, in order to cope with the taste of the bars, will use additive sugars to improve the taste of the protein bar.
Breakfast Cereal: Breakfast cereals market toward children, but in doing so, they make cavities much more prevalent for kids. For instance, breakfast sugars are filled with sugars in order to appeal to children.
Though there are plenty of foods and drinks in the market that are bad for your teeth, there are methods to avoid them. And, if you cannot resist chowing down on something sugary, remember to brush your teeth. By simply brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, especially after major meals, you are less likely to develop cavities and even tooth decay. Also, visiting with your local dentist is just another way to ensure that your smile doesn’t develop harmful dental diseases and cavities.
If you are currently questioning if you treat your teeth well, perhaps a cleaning and checkup would be good for you. With our cosmetic dentist, you will be able to tell the state of your teeth and treat any cavities you might already have. Contact us today.