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Trick-or-treating time is here, and with it often comes copious amounts of candy and sweet treats. These can bring a smile to anyone’s face–but do you know how to take care of that smile through all the sugary goodies?

First, to know what to do about the treats you are given, it is important to understand how sugar affects your smile. There are bacteria that are present in your mouth. These bacteria feed on sugars (simple carbohydrates). As they feed on this sugar, they convert that sugar into acids that erode your tooth enamel. The longer the sugar stays in your mouth, the more acid the bacteria produce, and the more rapidly your teeth erode. Thus, it is a good idea to get the sugars out of your mouth as quickly as possible. This also applies to naturally or artificially acidic foods.

Unfortunately, after eating or drinking–especially acidic foods–your tooth enamel is more sensitive to abrasion, because of the acids present in your mouth. Brushing your teeth is inherently abrasive. This combination means that it is a bad idea to brush your teeth right after eating.

A good way to neutralize the acids, therefore protecting your teeth from the cavities they cause, is to chew sugar-free gum for 20 minutes right after eating. This stimulates saliva production in the mouth; saliva is the body’s first defense against cavities. It cleans food particles away, and neutralizes acids in the mouth. This prepares your teeth for brushing.

After eating sticky, starchy, or sugary foods, be sure to chew sugarless gum for 20 minutes, then brush your teeth extra-thoroughly that day. Remember to floss once daily, removing plaque from between teeth. This is extremely important to mouth health, as food and plaque can easily get caught between teeth and cause cavities in hard-to-clean places.

For more information, call Cosmo Dental Office in Morgan Hill, California, at 408-779-9393.  Dr. Haleh Karimian and our team look forward to making your smile shine this holiday season!