Ever feel yourself GRINDING OR CLENCHING YOUR teeth?

This may feel like a pretty normal thing to do when you’re annoyed or stressed. However, if you grind your teeth on a regular basis, whether awake or asleep, it can become a serious problem. This kind of chronic clenching and teeth-grinding is known as “bruxism”.

Why Does Bruxism Happen?

Sleeping bruxism, also called nocturnal bruxism, is sometimes the side-effect of sleep apnea or snoring, while awake bruxism (diurnal bruxism) can be a side-effect of stress, improper chewing muscle mass or anxiety. However, not everyone with bruxism is dealing with a sleep disorder or stress, and everyone with a sleep disorder or a lot of stress in their lives will have bruxism. Another major contributor to bruxism is improperly aligned teeth.

Bruxism Symptoms

Treatment for bruxism is very tricky because there isn’t a single clear cause, so the focus tends to be on reducing symptoms and minimizing the damage.

You might not be consciously be aware of a teeth-grinding habit, but if you experience at least some of the following symptoms, it could be signs of bruxism:

  • Sore jaw (with sleep bruxism, your jaw will be most sore in the morning, whereas with awake bruxism, it’ll be most sore in the evening).
  • Frequent headaches from the constant strain on your cheek muscle, jaw joint and temples
  • Overdeveloped jaw muscles (because you’re giving them a major workout!)
  • Shifting teeth
  • Flattened chewing surfaces of teeth
  • Exposed inner surface of tooth known as “dentin” and, therefore, increased tooth sensitivity
  • Chipped, cracked, or split teeth
  • Tooth loss

Bruxism Treatment

There are a variety of treatments or approaches to either reduce the grinding or the damage it causes, depending on the type of bruxism you have.

Behavioral Therapy
You can become more aware of your clenching/grinding habits with behavioral therapy or habit-reversal techniques and consciously work to stop. Because it’s much harder to control what your jaw muscles do in your sleep, this option tends to work better for awake bruxism.

Relaxation
Relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing exercises, massages, warm baths, calming music, and a full night’s sleep can help you de-stress and stop grinding if your bruxism is stress-related.

Botox and Xeomin
Botox painless injections can help reduce the grind and lower the muscle mass aleivating pain and lowering the incidence of bruxism

Nightguards
Nightgaurds can help protect your enamel and reduce fractures and chipping while allievate the symptoms of bruxism

Diode Heat laser Therapy
Using the power of the Epic X diode laser, Dr. Steven Davidowitz can generally within 3-4 sessions reduce the inflammation in the muscles of the jaw and help alleviate the acute symptoms of bruxism

Tooth alignment
Positioning the teeth in a straighter more aligned position for your bite will help prevent improper forces from damaging enamel, teeth, roots and gums.

Prescribed Medication
Medicine is rarely used to treat bruxism, especially if other treatments are helping, but muscle relaxant medication prescribed by your doctor might help you unclench while you sleep.

We Can Help You Stop The Grind!

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Steven Davidowitz if you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms. It may be due to bruxism, and we can make a plan for how to address it. You don’t want to leave it untreated until it gets to the point where it’s damaging your teeth.

Help us help you keep your teeth healthy!

Fighting Back Against Oral Cancer

I KNOW, ORAL CANCER IS A SUBJECT we’d all prefer not to have to think about! But it is critical to have a rudimentary understanding of risk factors and symptoms. More than 50,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with oral cancer last year alone, and that number is expected to rise. That’s why, in honor of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we’re dedicating a blog post to the topic, giving our patients the tools they need for early detection.

Oral Cancer Risk Factors

There are several risk factors that increase a person’s chances of developing oral cancer. Some of them are out of our control, such as age and gender. It is far more common in people over 45, and men are twice as likely as women to develop oral cancer. But there are plenty of risk factors that we can control, the biggest of which is tobacco usage. A whopping 85 percent of oral cancer cases are linked to some kind of tobacco use (even e-cigarettes). The next biggest avoidable risk factor is heavy alcohol consumption and frequency of use.

A few of the less-obvious risk factors include getting too much sun (which can cause lip cancer), and HPV. In addition, neglecting your oral hygiene, particularly if you also drink and smoke can increase your risk of oral cancer. You can eliminate this risk factor by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and scheduling regular dental appointments!

Symptoms To Watch Out For

Unfortunately, even people with none of these risk factors will sometimes develop oral cancer anyway, which is why it’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms, which include:

  • A sore in the mouth or on the lip that doesn’t heal
  • Red or white patches inside the mouth
  • Unusual lump on lip, mouth, neck, or throat, or strange thickness in the cheek
  • Persistent sensation of having something stuck in the throat
  • Numbness of mouth or tongue
  • Difficulty with chewing or swallowing
  • Chronic bad breath that does not go away

If you do have one or more of the risk factors for oral cancer, getting regular general health screenings and physical exams can catch it before you even notice any symptoms. The earlier oral cancer is caught, the easier it is to beat it.

Where Does The Dentist Fit In?

Another way oral cancer is caught early is at regular dental exams! In addition to checking your teeth for cavities and your gums for signs of gum disease, we can spot many of those early symptoms of oral cancer while we’re looking at your mouth, which is just one more reason why it’s so important to keep scheduling your dental appointments! Dr. Steven Davidowitz performs an oral screening at each and every hygiene exam.

Even if you don’t have oral cancer or any of the risk factors, you can still help the people who are fighting this disease. Ask us how you can get involved! Join us in raising awareness! Take a bubble Photo to join our in office #bubblechallenge campaign

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Spring Is in The Air

SPRING IS IN THE AIR… and that brings along seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies have an affect on millions of people every year, but did you know that they can also affect oral health?

Why Do We Get Seasonal Allergies?

There are plenty of allergens that can make us sneeze year round, such as dust and pet dander, seasonal allergies, however, typically flare up twice a year: in the spring and the fall. This can mean long months of congestion, an itchy nose, eyes, mouth or throat, puffy eyes, sneezing, and coughing for people with allergies.

The reason our allergies act up the most during spring and fall is that trees and grass pollinate throughout the spring, while ragweed pollinates in the fall. To make matters worse, mold will also send out spores around the same time. Allergic reactions, including seasonal allergies, are the result of our immune systems going into overdrive in response to these allergens.

Allergies Versus Oral Health

While allergies can result in uncomfortable tingly or swollen lips, mouth, or tongue and irritated gums, the most common way seasonal allergies can become a problem for oral health is dry mouth. Whenever we have congestion, we end up breathing through our mouths instead of our noses, which dries up our saliva. Having dry mouth presents a serious threat to oral health, because saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against gum disease and tooth decay (cavities).

Prevention And Treatment

Because many allergens are airborne, avoiding allergic reactions can be difficult, but there are a few things you can do. It’s best to stay indoors on extra windy days when the most allergens are in the air. You should also wear a pollen mask while doing yard work, and avoid using window fans that could blow pollen and spores into your house.

If you do end up having an allergy attack, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and chew sugar-free gum with xylitol if possible to stimulate your salivary glands, and keep up your daily brushing and flossing routine. Make sure you also take the anti-allergy medications your doctor or allergist recommends to minimize your congestion.

Fighting Back Against Allergies Together!

If you’re experiencing dry mouth, whether as a side-effect of seasonal allergies or for any other reason, don’t hesitate to come see us! Your oral health is our top priority, and together we can come up with a plan to keep your mouth healthy until the allergies end and beyond!

Thank you for putting your trust in our practice!

The Food We Eat

THE FOOD WE EAT provides our bodies with the building blocks to maintain healthy cells, tissues, and organs and the energy to work, learn, and do the activities we love. It is crucial that we eat enough food (and preferably the right kinds) in order to keep everything working properly, which is why eating disorders are such a serious threat.

Malnutrition And Overall Health

Eating disorders are a group of psychological disorders that can have a devastating impact on the mental, physical, and emotional health of those who suffer from them. No system in the body is spared, and that includes oral health. That’s why we want to educate our patients on the dangers of eating disorders and encourage anyone suffering from one to seek help returning to healthy eating habits.

Anorexia: Starving The Oral Tissues

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by extremely restricted food intake, and may also involve purging and compulsive exercising. The main risk to oral health with anorexia is malnutrition. Insufficient nutrients can result in osteoporosis, which weakens the jaw bones, leading to tooth loss. The gums may also bleed easily, and the salivary glands may swell up and produce insufficient saliva, resulting in dry mouth.

Bulimia: Stomach Acid Versus Teeth

Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by periods of overeating (binging) followed by forced elimination of food through vomiting or laxatives (purging). Frequent vomiting exposes the teeth to stomach acid on a regular basis, which erodes the protective layer of enameland can lead to discoloration, decay, and even tooth loss.

Watch this video to see bulimia’s effects on teeth, as well as how dentist’s can help:

Preventing Additional Damage

Maintaining a good dental hygiene regimen is an important part of keeping teeth and oral tissues healthy in any circumstance, but particularly while recovering from an eating disorder. One important caution to take if your teeth have been exposed to acid (whether from acidic food and drink or from regurgitated stomach acid) is to wait thirty minutes to brush. Immediately after acid exposure, tooth enamel is weaker and can be scrubbed away by brushing, so it’s better to rinse with water and wait to brush.

The Road To Recovery

Eating disorders are very serious, and recovery is about getting the right help — from supportive friends and family as well as licensed psychologists. If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, a good first step on the road to recovery would be contacting the National Eating Disorders Helpline. The dentist also plays a role in minimizing and repairing the damage from malnutrition and acid erosion, so make sure to schedule an appointment.

Your overall health and wellness are important to us!

Why Choose ADA Member Dentist?

YOUR SMILE IS AN expression of who you are. It’s how we all greet a friend, celebrate life’s joyful moments, and make someone’s day a little brighter. We know how important your smile is to you and those around you. That’s why Dr. Steven Davidowitz is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA), so we can always provide our patients with the best and most up-to-date dental care!

What Is The ADA?

The American Dental Association was founded in 1859. It is a not-for-profit association which serves as the leading source of vital information about oral health for both dentists and their patients. The mission of the ADA is to improve the population’s oral health safely and with evidence backed research.

Through the ADA Seal of Acceptance Program, the association holds hundreds of consumer oral health products to the highest standards so that patients everywhere can trust in the effectiveness of their toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, and more. Because Dr. Steven Davidowitz is an ADA member, you can trust that all dental treatment performed at our practice meets the highest standards of quality and ethics.

What Does Being An ADA Member Mean For Our Patients?

Membership in the American Dental Association (ADA) demonstrates a commitment to continuing education and to the ethical standards of the profession. When you choose an ADA member dentist, you’re choosing a dentist who has access to a wealth of up-to-date information and resources, and has agreed to follow the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct and made a professional promise to put your health and well-being first.

For 150 years, the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Conduct have served as the foundation to which all dental professionals are expected to adhere. Known as “the ADA Code,” members voluntarily agree to abide as a condition of membership, committing to high ethical standards of conduct.

Here’s a breakdown of the 5 pledges dentists make in the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct.

Respect a Patient’s Wants and Needs

The dentist has a duty to respect the patient’s rights to self-determination and confidentiality. This principle expresses the concept that professionals have a duty to treat the patient according to the patient’s desires, within the bounds of accepted treatment, and to protect the patient’s confidentiality. Under this principle, the dentist’s primary obligations include involving patients in treatment decisions in a meaningful way, with due consideration being given to the patient’s needs, desires and abilities, and safeguarding the patient’s privacy.

Do No Harm

The dentist has a duty to refrain from harming the patient. This principle expresses the concept that professionals have a duty to protect the patient from harm. Under this principle, the dentist’s primary obligations include keeping knowledge and skills current, knowing one’s own limitations and when to refer to a specialist or other professional, and knowing when and under what circumstances delegation of patient care to auxiliaries is appropriate.

Do Good

The dentist has a duty to promote the patient’s welfare. This principle expresses the concept that professionals have a duty to act for the benefit of others. Under this principle, the dentist’s primary obligation is service to the patient and the public-at-large. The most important aspect of this obligation is the competent and timely delivery of dental care within the bounds of clinical circumstances presented by the patient, with due consideration being given to the needs, desires and values of the patient.

Be Fair

The dentist has a duty to treat people fairly. This principle expresses the concept that professionals have a duty to be fair in their dealings with patients, colleagues and society. Under this principle, the dentist’s primary obligations include dealing with people justly and delivering dental care without prejudice. In its broadest sense, this principle expresses the concept that the dental profession should actively seek allies throughout society on specific activities that will help improve access to care for all.

Be Truthful

The dentist has a duty to communicate truthfully. This principle expresses the concept that professionals have a duty to be honest and trustworthy in their dealings with people. Under this principle, the dentist’s primary obligations include respecting the position of trust inherent in the dentist-patient relationship, communicating truthfully and without deception, and maintaining intellectual integrity.

Be Truthful

The dentist has a duty to communicate truthfully. This principle expresses the concept that professionals have a duty to be honest and trustworthy in their dealings with people. Under this principle, the dentist’s primary obligations include respecting the position of trust inherent in the dentist-patient relationship, communicating truthfully and without deception, and maintaining intellectual integrity.

We Go The Extra Mile For Our Patients

Our number one priority is our patients’ safety and satisfaction. We’re always willing to go the extra mile to ensure that we are providing the best care to every single person who comes into our office!

As an ADA member, Dr. Steven Davidowitz is constantly improving his skills and learning how to better serve you. Why? Because you deserve the healthy smile of your dreams, and we’re here to make that dream a reality!

Thank you for choosing our practice!

Preparing your smile for the big day

YOU’VE DREAMED OF THIS day your whole life. You have the ring and the fiancé, the planning is going well, and you’re down to the last few details. Bridals are coming up, and then the wedding itself. You realize there’s something you need to do before you have hundreds of pictures taken of you: perfect your smile!

Whitening: Home Versus Professional

When it comes to teeth whitening, strips, toothpastes, and rinses are the most cost-effective options. They’re cheap and you can do them yourself, but the results won’t be as good as with professional whitening. It’s critical to start the whitening strips at least one to two weeks in advance, and at least a month in advance if you go with toothpastes and rinses.

Another option is take-home strips or custom whitening trays. These trays do cost more, but they result in better whitening as they have a better carrier and therefore a higher percentage of hydrogen peroxide can be evenly kept on the teeth and away from the gums. We recommend starting whitening trays about one month before the wedding or any important photo-shoots.

The highest quality, safest, and fastest route you could choose is professional whitening. Whitening sessions will take place at the dental office and can be pricier than take-home options, but the great results in one visit.

Straightening That Smile

Whitening alone will make a beautiful difference to any smile, but sometimes there are other issues to take care of before the big day, such as orthodontics. Orthodontic appliances can be a little expensive, but the results are life-changing. Having straight teeth and a healthy bite are a huge confidence-booster, in addition to providing health benefits and looking great.

Unlike whitening, which can be done in the last couple of months leading up to the wedding, Clear aligners generally require at least 6 months, so don’t wait too long to schedule a consultation if you hear wedding bells in your future! Be sure to ask Dr. Davidowitz about his accelerated Invisalign techniques.

Repairs For Chips And Cavities

One of the factors that determine our oral health is genetics. Unfortunately, that means that sometimes, even the most diligent brushing, flossing, and avoidance of sugary treats aren’t enough to keep cavities at bay. And even when we’re being careful, accidents happen, and a tooth might end up chipped.

If you find yourself facing one of these setbacks before your wedding, veneers and bonding are both great options to consider. Veneers are color-matched to blend in with your natural teeth, resulting in a beautiful, natural-looking smile.

Tooth bonding is a process that covers damaged or discolored teeth with plastic resin. These don’t last as long as veneers, but they can be applied in just one visit. On the other hand, it takes one to two weeks after taking the impression of your teeth to receive your custom veneers.

We’re Here To Help Make Your Special Day Perfect!

We know how hectic it can be to plan a wedding, so we want to make things easier for you by helping you prepare your smile. Whether that’s as simple as a regular cleaning appointment or something more involved, you can count on our practice!

Wishing our patients all the happiness in the world!

Women’s Oral Health

Men and woman share many qualities and health trends but there are quite a few differences when it comes to oral health. Though women have some oral health advantages that men lack, there are also some disadvantages that woman have whereas men don’t have to worry about. Let’s take a look at the main ones.

TMJ and Sjögren’s Syndrome

Women account for 90 percent! of people suffering from TMJ (temporomandibular joint) syndrome, or chronic pain or soreness in the joint that connects the jaw to the skull. The most obvious cause is teeth grinding known as bruxism. Other causes may be the result of stress, joint structure, vitamin deficiency, medical conditions like arthritis, and even hormones.

Another condition women are far more prone to than men is Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks salivary glands and tear ducts this results in dry mouth and dry eye and then can move on to other tissues and organs.

Dry mouth, aside from making chewing and swallowing difficult, is very dangerous to oral health, because saliva washes away food particles, fights bacteria, and neutralizes the mouth’s pH from acidic to neutral. With both syndromes, regular dental visits are crucial so that you can get a proper diagnosis and develop a treatment plan that will keep your mouth healthy.

Puberty, Pregnancy, and Menopause

Hormones play a large role in women’s dental health, particularly when they are going through significant changes, such as during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Gingivitis and inflamed gums are common during puberty and pregnancy, which is why it’s especially important to maintain good oral hygiene with daily brushing and flossing under these conditions.

Dry mouth is a common problem for women going through menopause, another common problem is bone loss. When bone loss occurs in the jaw, it can compromise the gums and the roots of the teeth. It’s very important for menopausal women to discuss these potential effects with their dentists, ideally before any negative symptoms appear!

Eating Disorders and Teeth

A startling fact is that more than twice as many teenage girls suffer from eating disorders than teenage boys, and that ratio persists in different age groups. Eating disorders are life-threatening. They have negative effects on every system in the body, and the mouth is no exception.

Malnutrition, particularly a deficiency in vitamins and minerals essential to keeping teeth and gums healthy, can lead to a variety of oral health problems, but eating disorders can do more direct harm as well. Bulimia in particular can lead to tooth erosion from frequent exposure to stomach acid during purges.

Anyone suffering from an eating disorder should seek psychiatric help to recover mentally, but it will take rigorous dental hygiene and help from dental professionals to maintain or restore good oral health.

You And Your Dentist Make A Great Team!

By this point, you might think women got the short end of the stick all around when it comes to oral health, but one major advantage women have is their tendency to take better care of their teeth. Women are more likely to brush twice a day, floss daily, and keep up with their regular dental appointments than men. They’re also much less likely to try toughing it out whenever they experience tooth pain or other symptoms. These healthy habits and seeking out help for symptoms combine to greatly reduce the impact of all the above conditions, so keep up the good work!

Let’s keep those mouths healthy, ladies!

What is your Oral Health’s Most Valuable player?

SALIVA IS SUCH an ordinary thing that you probably haven’t given it much thought, but it’s actually super important to the healthy function of our mouths. The best analogy I can think of is saliva to the mouth is as important as oil is to a working car engine. Saliva is an essential component of our ability to eat, taste our favorite foods, and speak, it’s crucial to a healthy immune system, and it’s our first line of defense against many oral health problems.

Saliva Production And Stages

In a healthy mouth, saliva is produced continuously by the major and monor salivary glands, which are located under our tongues and in our cheeks and lips. These glands produce between two and six cups of saliva every day! Saliva is 98% percent water, and the rest consists of proteins, digestive enzymes, antimicrobial factors, and electrolytes.

Depending on where food is in the digestive process, saliva goes through a few different stages: cephalic, buccal, oesophageal, gastric, and intestinal. When you smell something delicious and your mouth waters, that’s the cephalic stage! Actually eating moves it to the buccal stage, which helps us swallow food. The oesophageal stage helps move swallowed food down the esophagus.

The last two stages are less pleasant, but still important. If you’re about to throw up, your salivary glands work overtime in the gastric stage so that the stomach acid won’t do as much damage when it comes up and out with the partially digested food. The intestinal stage is similar, activating when the body doesn’t agree with food that reaches the upper intestine.

Saliva And Oral Health

There are many reasons we have saliva, but the most important role it plays for your teeth is keeping your mouth’s pH balanced and flushing away remnants of food to keep everything clean. Eating food tends to make our mouths more acidic, and even though the enamel on our teeth is the hardest substance in our bodies, it only takes a pH of 5.5 to start dissolving it. Many of the foods we eat are far more acidic than that, which makes saliva critical in protecting our teeth.

The antimicrobial factors in saliva also fight bacteria, protecting us against gum disease and bad breath. Growth factors in saliva are why injuries in your mouth (like a burned tongue or a bitten cheek) heal faster than injuries elsewhere on the body. And those are just the benefits to oral health, but saliva does much more.

When The Spit Runs Dry…

All of these benefits are why dry mouth is such a serious problem. It can happen for a number of reasons. Our mouths tend to go dry in stressful situations. We also tend to produce less saliva in old age. Drug use, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all cause dry mouth as well. Unfortunately, many prescription medications cause dry mouth as a common side effect. This could lead to gum problems and quick forming cavities.

Let’s Get That Mouth Watering!

If you’ve been experiencing dry mouth for any reason, schedule an appointment with us. We can discover the cause and get that saliva flowing again so that you won’t miss out on any of its great health benefits!

Thank you for trusting in our practice!

When Should I See the Dentist?

BECAUSE PREVENTION IS such a major part of good dental care, it’s critical to visit the dentist for regular checkups. In most cases, two regular dental cleanings a year will be all you need, but not always. So what are the signs that you shouldn’t wait until your next scheduled appointment to come back? For this blog post, we’ve listed the top five.

1. Pains Of Any Kind

If you’re experiencing tooth aches, that could mean a cavity has gotten to the point where the dental pulp is getting inflamed. Please do not “tough it out” thinking that it will just go away on its own. Other types of pain you should bring to the dentist are an aching or soreness in the jaw and/or frequent headaches. These are often connected to oral health issues such as bruxism – teeth grinding, and the Dr. Davidowitz can help!

2. Bleeding Gums or Sores in the mouth

Mouth sores most usually go away on their own, but they can also be a sign of infection or disease, so it’s important to get those looked at when they appear. If you notice that you’re bleeding after brushing or flossing, it is a sign that it is time to come see the dentist, particularly if you’re already using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Bleeding gums are one of the first symptoms of gum disease called gingivitis, so don’t ignore the signs!

3. Previous Dental Work

If you’ve had dental work done in the past and there’s a problem with it now, don’t wait until a regular appointment to get that fixed, because it will likely get worse. A cracked or broken restoration needs to be repaired quickly so that infection or further degradation doesn’t set in. Old looking stained or opened fillings need to be replaced to prevent bacteria from thriving in the gaps between the tooth and the filling.

4. Serious Medical Concerns

Serious medical conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes, eating disorders, and gum disease affect our oral health more than we realize, and sometimes the treatments have negative impacts too. Many common prescribed medications cause dry mouth, which can seriously jeopardize oral health. That’s why if you are diagnosed with a chronic disease and/or have new medications prescribed to you, your dentist needs to know about it.

5. Bad Breath

Few things are as mortifying as being in a social situation and realizing you have bad breath or being told by a loved one about it, but did you know that bad breath is sometimes a symptom of gum disease or other health problems? If you find yourself having an unusually hard time keeping your breath minty fresh, it’s a good idea to visit the dentist so we can discover the underlying cause.

Remember: Keep Up with Your Regular Dental Visits!

While we hope you come to see us right away if you notice any of these signs, we want to reemphasize the importance of scheduling regular appointments. Most dental health problems appear gradually, and an appointment every six months is enough to catch these problems before they become serious.

Thank you for trusting in us to take care of all your dental concerns!

Soda Versus Our Teeth

HAVE YOU EVER HEARD of “Mountain Dew Mouth”? This phenomenon is what happens to our teeth when we drink too much soda. The term actually comes from rural Appalachia, where that particular brand of drink has long been the carbonated beverage of choice and tooth decay is alarmingly rampant. But this doesn’t just happen in Appalachia, and Mountain Dew isn’t the only drink that contributes to tooth decay.

The Dangers of Sugary Drinks

When we eat or drink things with sugar in it, the sugar will stick to our teeth afterward. Sugar itself doesn’t do any damage to our oral health on its own, but it is unfortunately the favorite food of the bacteria that lives in our mouths. These bacteria, known as strep mutans, eat the sugar and then excrete acids that erode our tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay (cavities). They can also cause inflammation that increase the risk of gingivitis and gum disease.

Any source of sugar can negatively impact oral health. Sugary drinks (including fruit juice, but especially soda) are particularly dangerous because they aren’t filling like solid food and are therefore easy to keep drinking.

Effects Of Carbonation

So if sugar is the problem, then can’t we keep our teeth healthy by switching to diet soda instead of giving up carbonated beverages altogether? Diet soda is certainly an improvement, but sugar isn’t soda’s only threat to dental health. The other is acid. Sugar leads to tooth decay because oral bacteria eat sugar and excrete acid that erode tooth enamel. Soda cuts out the middle man and applies acid directly to the teeth.

Even diet sodas and carbonated water contain acid. The three types of acid commonly found in soda are citric, phosphoric, and carbonic. Any drink with citrus flavoring will have citric acid, many colas get their flavor from phosphoric acid, and carbonic acid is what makes these drinks fizzy in the first place.

Protecting Your Smile

It would be best for your teeth to avoid soda and other sugary drinks entirely. If you can’t bring yourself to give up your favorite drink completely though, there are a few ways to enjoy it while protecting your teeth. A big one would be to only drink soda with a meal instead of sipping from a can or bottle throughout the day so that the sugar and acid aren’t sitting in your mouth for long periods.

You can also help balance your mouth’s pH and rinse away remaining sugar by drinking water after the soda. Finally, you can clean away the last traces of sugar and acid by brushing your teeth, but it’s a good idea to wait until the pH balance is back to normal before brushing, which takes about thirty minutes.

It is particularly important for children and people with braces to avoid overindulging in sugary drinks. Children have the highest risk of enamel erosion because their enamel isn’t yet fully developed, and braces plus a soda habit is a great way to end up with stained teeth when the braces come off.

Don’t Forget That We Can Help Too!

Following these good habits will go a long way towards protecting your teeth against decay and erosion from the sugar and acid in soda. Still, don’t forget that your dentist is also an important part of the equation. Keep scheduling those visits every six months!

Thank you for always being our valued patients!