From Our 2006 Archives
Don't Brush Off Dental Health Over the Holidays
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When bacteria (plaque) on your teeth come into contact with sugar or starch, they produce acid that attacks the teeth. Over time, this can cause tooth enamel to break down and lead to cavities and other problems.
"If you don't bother to properly clean your teeth, the results might be tooth decay, gum disease and possible tooth loss," Dr. Matthew Messina, and ADA consumer adviser and dentist from the Cleveland area, said in a prepared statement.
He noted that certain kinds of sweet treats are worse than others.
"The stickier things are, like fruit cakes and gummy bears, the less likely they'll be washed out from between the teeth by saliva. Any kind of candy that sticks to your teeth is more harmful than a chocolate bar that gets washed away," Messina said.
The length of time food remains in your mouth is another important factor.
"Cough drops, hard candy and breath mints stay in the mouth for a long period. Unless they are sugar-free products, the teeth are subjected to acid attacks while the product remains in the mouth," Messina said.
The ADA offers some tips on how to enjoy holiday sweets while reducing the risk of tooth decay:
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: American Dental Association, news release, December 2006
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