Family Life, Feature Story

6 Dentist-Approved Tips to Keep Your Teeth Cavity-free

Have you ever read the labels of fruit juice or pop bottles? The amount of sugar these drinks contain are astounding. Sure they taste pretty good, but the truth is the high amount of sugar is not good for our teeth.

According to the Michigan Dental Association, the high-fructose corn syrup found in sugary drinks can cause what’s called “acid attacks” on your teeth. What happens is the fructose corn syrup combines with the natural bacteria in your mouth to form acid. This weakens your tooth enamel.

An acid attack can last for about 20 minutes, and every time you take a sip of your sugary drink, the 20 minutes start over. Once the acid attack damages your tooth enamel, bacteria in your mouth will start causing cavities and tooth decay.

The MDA breaks it down for us like this:

  • Pop = 5.5 cupcakes… with icing… and sprinkles…
  • Sports Drink = 40 mini marshmallows
  • Lemonade = 9.5 candy rolls  
  • Juice Box = 40 gummy bears
  • Energy Drink = 11 chewy candies
  • Unicorn Coffee = 5 frosted, sprinkle donuts
  • Hot chocolate = 8 chocolate candies

Each food item contains a high amount of sugar, which in turn, puts you at risk of really damaging your teeth.

Dr. Michele Tulak-Gorecki of Marlow Family Dental in Warren, Michigan shared a few tips on how we can protect are teeth.

MAKE BRUSHING TEETH FUN FOR THE KIDS

It can be challenging to get little ones to brush their teeth. One way you can keep them interested is by making it fun for them. “A really good way [to encourage brushing] is to do it together,” Dr. Tulak-Gorecki recommends. “Make it something fun!”

Children love to mimick Mom and Dad’s actions, like shaving or putting on makeup. When you have your kids brush their teeth at the same time you brush your teeth, they will feel encouraged to brush their teeth regularly.

Dr. Tulak-Gorecki also suggests finding toothbrushes that are fun for children, such as light-up toothbrushes or brushes that play music. There are so many fun options to keep your kids engaged and to help them create a good, healthy habit.

BRUSH YOUR TEETH AT LEAST TWO TIMES A DAY

You shouldn’t just brush your teeth after waking up in the morning. It’s important to also brush your teeth before you go to bed.

Liquid from sugary drinks can coat your teeth with sugar and acid. Debris from the food we eat also gets stuck onto or in-between our teeth.

It doesn’t go away when you sleep at night. It stays there until you wake up so it’s important to clean your teeth before falling asleep.

USE WATER TO CLEAN YOUR TEETH WHEN AWAY FROM HOME

If you’re at work and you don’t have a tooth brush, then you can always use water to rinse your mouth.

Dr. Tulak-Gorecki also recommends parents teach their children to rinse their mouth with water after eating food when they’re at school. Sometimes children are not able to keep toothbrushes at school. Rinsing their mouth will help remove some of the food debris.

EAT FRESH FRUIT TO HELP WITH CLEANING TEETH

“An apple a day doesn’t just keep the doctor away,” Dr. Tulak-Gorecki says. “It keeps the dentist away, too.” She explains apples help clean off our teeth because it’s crunchy and it removes food debris.

The dentist warns patients to limit their intake of raisins and dried fruit. “Parents think it’s healthy to eat, but they’re concentrated in sugar and stick to the teeth.”

Burt’s Bees Clean & Fresh Toothpaste is ADA-accepted.

FOR ADULTS, USE ADA-ACCEPTE FLUORIDE TOOTHPASTE

“Fluoride helps to prevent cavities,” Dr. Tulak-Gorecki says. According to the ADA, fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making tooth enamel stronger.

When purchasing toothpaste, make sure you read the label to find the ADA-accepted sign. The ADA, or American Dental Association, take time to review dental products to ensure they are safe for consumers to use on their teeth. You can visit their official website here to find ADA-accepted dental products.

For children under age 3, Dr. Tulak-Gorecki recommends you don’t let them have toothpaste with fluoride. Instead, you should wait until your child understands the concept of spitting out their toothpaste.

SEE YOUR DENTIST TWICE A YEAR FOR A CLEANING

Dr. Tulak-Gorecki says it is also recommended adults and children see a dentist twice a year for a regular check-up. That’s every 6 months for a dentist visit. Regular dental check-ups are a great way for your dentist to catch any issues before it worsens.

For young children, Dr. Tulak-Gorecki also recommends they are seen as early as age 1. “We do what’s called a knee-to-knee exam,” she explains. A knee-to-knee exam is when a parent holds their child on their lap while the dentist checks the child’s teeth. It’s a great way to introduce your little to the dentist so they are not scared.

Dr. Tulak-Gorecki also tells parents dental visits are important for young children because “Milk Bottle Decay” is a common issue. This is when a child consumes a sugary drink before bedtime and doesn’t brush their teeth afterward. Milk Bottle Decay can cause serious damage to a child’s teeth.

For more information and tips on oral health, visit the MDA’s official website here. Also, read “The Sugary Truth” to learn more about how consuming too much sugar can be harmful to your teeth.


Special thanks to Dr. Tulak-Gorecki for taking the time to interview with Good Life Detroit.

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