Orthodontic Health Month: Eating Sweet Treats & Oral Health

Sweet treats are often the highlight of celebrations and gatherings. They’re also a delicious ending to a great day and a simple way to lift our spirits on a gloomy day. Yet, while these sugary delights bring joy to our taste buds, they can have a less-than-sweet impact on our oral health. At Adult & Pediatric Orthodontics, we believe in educating our patients, so this Orthodontic Health Month, let’s go over how eating sweet treats affects our teeth and gums.

The Relationship Between Sweet Treats And Your Oral Health

Sugar, when consumed, interacts with the bacteria present in our mouth, producing acids. These acids can weaken the enamel, the protective outer layer of our teeth. Over time, this can lead to cavities, a common dental issue many of us are familiar with. But it’s not just cavities we need to be wary of. Excessive sugar can also lead to gum disease, a condition where the gums become inflamed and can potentially recede. The stakes are even higher for those with braces or other orthodontic appliances. Sugary residues can get trapped, increasing the risk of plaque buildup and subsequent dental issues.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should banish sweet treats from your life entirely. It’s about balance and being informed. By understanding the effects of sugar on our oral health, we can make better choices, practice diligent oral hygiene, and continue to enjoy our favorite treats in moderation. After all, a well-informed decision is always the sweetest!

The Relationship Between Sweet Treats And Your Orthodontic Appliances

Orthodontic appliances, whether traditional braces, clear braces, clear aligners, or retainers, play a pivotal role in aligning our teeth and ensuring a perfect smile. However, indulging in sweet treats can pose unique challenges for those wearing these devices. 

Sticky candies, like caramel or taffy, can be a nightmare for traditional braces wearers. These treats can cling to the brackets and wires, making them difficult to clean and increasing the risk of plaque buildup. In some cases, hard or crunchy candies can even damage the braces, leading to unexpected visits to the orthodontist for repairs. It’s best to avoid sticky and hard candy to protect your braces.

For those using clear aligners or removable retainers, sugary beverages or candies can leave a residue on the equipment. Over time, this can lead to discoloration of the aligner, making it more visible. If the appliances and teeth are not cleaned properly, it can create an environment conducive to bacterial growth, potentially leading to cavities or gum issues.

The good news is, with a bit of caution and care, you can still enjoy your favorite treats without compromising your orthodontic treatment.

Orthodontic Health Month: Eating Sweet Treats & Oral Health

Can I Eat Sweet Treats In Treatment?

Yes, of course! Indulging in sweet treats is one of life’s simple pleasures, and we don’t want to discourage you from eating something that brings you joy. It’s essential to strike a balance when it comes to our oral health. At Adult & Pediatric Orthodontics, we believe in enjoying the sweet moments while caring for our smiles. We briefly touched on what you should not eat in the section above. Here are some tips to help you maintain oral health without compromising your favorite desserts.

Maintain Regular Oral Hygiene

  • Brushing: Ensure you brush your teeth at least twice daily, especially after consuming sugary foods. Use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen your enamel.
  • Flossing: Don’t skip flossing! It helps remove food particles stuck between teeth, reducing the risk of cavities.
  • Mouthwash: Consider using an antimicrobial mouthwash to kill bacteria and freshen your breath.

Stay Hydrated

  • Drink Water: After enjoying a sweet treat, rinse your mouth with water. It helps wash away sugar residues and neutralizes the acids produced by bacteria.
  • Limit Sugary Beverages: Reduce your intake of sugary sodas, juices, and energy drinks. If you do satisfy your sweet craving, use a straw to minimize contact with your teeth.

Be Mindful of Snacking

  • Limit Frequency: Every time you eat, especially sugary foods, acid production increases in your mouth, attacking your tooth enamel. Try to limit snacking and stick to main meals.
  • Healthy Snacks: If you feel peckish, eat teeth-friendly snacks like cheese or cooked vegetables (raw or crunchy vegetables can damage your braces). Nuts are an excellent oral health-promoting snack but unsuitable for those with fixed appliances. Avoid an orthodontic emergency by asking yourself, “Could this break my braces or fixed retainer?” before chowing down.

Regular Dental Check-ups

Schedule regular check-ups with Dr. Yu and your trusted dentist. Dr. Yu can ensure your treatment is on schedule and safe, and professional cleanings and exams with your dentist help remove plaque buildup and catch any potential issues early.

By making informed choices and maintaining a diligent oral care routine, you can enjoy the best of both worlds: delightful, sweet treats and a radiant, healthy smile!

Special Considerations for Children

Children’s teeth are in a constant state of growth and development, making them particularly susceptible to the effects of sugary treats. At Adult & Pediatric Orthodontics, we emphasize the importance of early dental care. While kids are drawn to colorful candies, sticky sweets, and sugary beverages, these can accelerate tooth decay and lead to childhood dental issues. 

Children with braces face additional challenges, as sugary residues can become trapped, increasing the risk of cavities. Educating children about the effects of sugar on their teeth is crucial. Encourage them to make healthier snack choices, practice regular oral hygiene, and limit their intake of harmful treats. Instilling good habits early on can set the foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

Orthodontic Health Month: Eating Sweet Treats & Oral Health

Celebrate Orthodontic Health Month With Adult & Pediatric Orthodontics!

Follow us on Instagram or Facebook to learn more orthodontic health tips and celebrate this fantastic awareness month with Dr. Yu and her team!

If you would like personalized oral health advice, please contact our offices in Portland or Windham to speak to a helpful team member or to book an appointment.

We hope to see you online and hear from you soon!