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What are ‘soft teeth’?

November 30, 2011

Filed under: Dental Health — Tags: , , , , — dr_shetty @ 1:30 pm

“Doc, I’m doomed.  My whole family has soft teeth and I always have cavities.  I think my kids are going to have the same problem.”

My heart breaks every time I hear this. Why?  One simple reason.  The outer layer of teeth is called Enamel, and it is the hardest substance in the whole body.  Yes, Enamel is harder than BONE!

So, why the myth of soft teeth?

Dental enamel is the hardest and most mineralized substance in the body.  When those minerals come out, the teeth loose their strength.  How do teeth lose their minerals?  ACID is the culprit here; it just sucks the minerals right out.  Sodas, sports drinks, stomach acid from acid reflux/heartburn are the biggest culprits.  Acid is the reason that teeth ‘get soft’.  Now, add sugar to teeth that are stripped of their natural defenses, and cavities start easily and move fast.

Fiction: Only Sugar in sweets causes Cavities. Fact: Sugar comes in many forms, not just the stuff we put in coffee or tea.  Highly processed grains like white bread and pastries have huge amounts of sugars, and the white flour of processed foods breaks down to sugars and acids in the mouth.

Fiction: Too much sugar is the only way to get a cavity. Actually, the ph level, which relates to the amount of acid in your mouth, is another danger in tooth decay.    The higher the acid level, the weaker the enamel gets making it more prone to cavities.

Fiction: Healthy foods can’t cause cavities. Actually many healthy foods have lots of natural sugars.  Things like dried fruits and fruit juices could cause cavities if you are not careful.

Fact: The higher the acid level in your mouth, the easier it is for cavities to start.  So if diet, habits, or disease is releasing acid into your mouth you have just increased your potential for getting cavities.  Beverages like coffee, tea, Gatorade and energy drinks will lead to higher acid concentrations, and combined with the sugar in those beverages the risks for cavities are enormous.

Even though you may have a sugar free diet, other foods could be causing the acid levels in your mouth to rise, putting you at risk.   And it’s not just how much of the foods you are eating, but the time period in stays in your mouth during the day.  Water has so many health benefits and by sipping water after snacks and meals, you can lower the acid levels as well as wash away foods that tend to stick to teeth.

There are some foods that are great at raising the ph levels as well, and are healthy snacks.  Things like cheese, peanuts, nuts, and sugar free gums are great ways to protect your pearly whites.  Of course, brushing and flossing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste ensures that the enamel will be strengthened as well.

So, since you now know why teeth get soft, ask us how we can help make them strong and beautiful.

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