The Truth About Your Sweet Tooth: How It Fuels Tooth Cavities 

Okay, let’s be honest, sugary treats are loved by kids and adults alike for a single reason – they’re sugary. As much as all wish we could binge on that ice cream bowl or down our third can of soda after a long day in Lagos traffic, we know better. 

All that sugar doesn’t dissipate into thin air. Some of it is broken down in our body and converted to energy while the bacteria in your mouth hangs on to the rest – creating the potential for tooth cavities

But how exactly does this happen? We’ll break it down in this article and teach you how to protect your teeth against cavities.

The Different Types of Sugar

We all know sugar is bad for our teeth, but not all sugars are created equal when it comes to cavity formation. Let’s dive into the science and unveil the differences between simple and complex sugars

Simple Sugars

These are the cavity culprits we hear about most often. They’re quickly absorbed by the body and provide a readily available energy source for oral bacteria. Their structure is straightforward, making them easy for bacteria to break down and turn into acid, the main culprit behind tooth decay.

  • Glucose and Fructose: These two monosaccharides (single sugars) are the building blocks of most other sugars, including table sugar (sucrose). They’re found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, but also added to processed foods and beverages.
  • Sucrose: This disaccharide (double sugar) is formed from glucose and fructose. It’s the table sugar we use for baking and sweetening, and it’s also found in many processed foods.

Complex Sugars

These are bigger molecules made up of chains of simple sugars. They take longer for the body to break down, providing a slower and more sustained energy release. While they still contribute to acid production, their impact on cavity formation is generally considered less severe compared to simple sugars.

  • Starch: This polysaccharide (multiple sugar) is found in grains, potatoes, and legumes. It’s broken down into glucose in the digestive system, but the process is slower than for simple sugars, reducing the immediate acid spike in the mouth.
  • Fiber: This complex carbohydrate forms the cell walls of plants. While technically a sugar, it’s not broken down in the small intestine and doesn’t contribute to acid production. Fiber can actually help remove food particles and bacteria from the teeth, playing a role in cavity prevention.

It’s important to note that any type of sugar in excess can contribute to cavity formation. Therefore, moderation is key to preventing tooth cavities. 


How Your Sugary Treats Creates Tooth Cavities

It all starts with a colony of bacteria naturally present in your mouth. These tiny organisms form a sticky film called plaque on your teeth. When you consume sugar, the bacteria feast on it, converting it into a by-product: acid. 

The acid produced by the sugar-fed bacteria is surprisingly potent. Over time, it starts to erode this enamel, dissolving its minerals and creating tiny weak spots. This erosion is the initial stage of a tooth cavity.

Now, if you leave these weak spots unchecked, the bacteria party continues. They burrow deeper into the softened enamel, reaching the dentin layer beneath. Dentin is softer than enamel, making it even more vulnerable to acid attack. As the bacteria chew through the dentin, they create bigger cavities, reaching towards the sensitive pulp inside your tooth.

This is where the pain and other unpleasant symptoms of a cavity can arise. If left untreated, the bacteria can reach the pulp, causing inflammation and potentially infecting the surrounding bone and tissue. That’s when things get really serious, requiring more extensive dental procedures.

Surprising Healthy Foods You Consume That Contain Sugar

Salad Dressing: You might think a drizzle of vinaigrette enhances your leafy greens, but some popular brands pack a surprising punch of sugar. 

Yogurt: Yes, even yogurt, often touted as a healthy snack, can be a sugar trap. Flavored yogurts, especially those labeled “fruit on the bottom,” can have upwards of 20 grams of sugar per serving. Plain yogurt with fresh fruit and nuts is a much healthier alternative, offering the same creamy goodness with less guilt.

Granola Bars: Marketed as healthy on-the-go snacks, many granola bars are loaded with added sugars. Popular brands can easily contain 15-20 grams of sugar per bar, often disguised as “dried fruit,” “honey,” or “brown rice syrup.” Look for bars with under 10 grams of sugar and focus on whole grains and nuts for sustained energy.

Canned Fruit: While fruit is naturally sweet, canned varieties often get an extra sugary boost. Fruit cocktail, for example, can have close to 40 grams of sugar per serving, mostly from added syrups. Opt for fresh or frozen fruit, or rinse canned fruit in water to remove excess sugar.

Fruit Juices: Don’t be fooled by the “100% juice” label. Though technically fruit-based, juices lack the fiber that slows down sugar absorption, leading to blood sugar spikes. Stick to whole fruits for a slower sugar release and the added benefit of fiber.

Condiments: Even savory delights aren’t safe from the sugar infiltration. Ketchup, a common burger partner, can conceal 5 grams of sugar per tablespoon. BBQ sauce and teriyaki sauce are even worse offenders. Use these dips sparingly and explore sugar-free or low-sugar alternatives.

Flavored Coffee Creamers: Your morning java might be getting an unintentional sugar boost. Popular coffee creamers, both dairy and non-dairy, can pack 10-15 grams of sugar per serving. Skip the creamy additions and enjoy your coffee black or with a splash of unsweetened almond or oat milk.

Take Control Of Your Sweet Tooth And Prevent Tooth Cavities

While mindful sugar choices are crucial, remember – they’re not the only line of defense against cavities. Maintaining a proactive oral hygiene routine is equally important. Here’s how you can actively protect your teeth:

  • Brush twice daily: Brushing for two minutes, twice a day, with a fluoride toothpaste removes plaque and food debris, the fuel for tooth cavity-causing bacteria.
  • Floss like a boss: Don’t forget those hidden surfaces. Flossing daily cleans between teeth where bacteria love to hide and brushes can’t reach.
  • Rinse, repeat, rejoice: Mouthwash with fluoride can further neutralize plaque and freshen breath. 
  • Regular visits to your friendly neighborhood dentist are vital for early detection and prevention of cavities. They’ll perform professional cleanings to remove stubborn plaque and tartar buildup, and they can identify potential problems before they escalate. Aim for checkups and cleanings every six months, or more frequently if your dentist recommends it.

Final Thoughts

Every smile is unique, and so are dental needs. Consulting your dentist is the best way to develop a personalized plan for optimal oral health and protect yourself against tooth cavities. They can assess your individual risk factors, recommend specific products and strategies, and schedule regular checkups to monitor your progress and catch any potential issues early.



Understanding The Different Types of Teeth Braces

Have you ever dreamt of closing gaps, aligning crooked teeth, or banishing that pesky overbite? Teeth braces, those once-dreaded metal contraptions, have evolved into different types – giving you multiple options for your dental needs.

Teeth braces aren’t just about aesthetics. Misaligned teeth can affect your bite, speech, and even overall health. Teeth braces, in their many forms, gently guide your teeth into their ideal positions, correcting gaps, crowding, and misalignments. But with so many options, from traditional metal to invisible wonders, choosing the right type can feel daunting.

This quick guide will help you understand the different type of teeth braces, so your next dental appointment can feel a lot easier.

What Does Braces Do To The Teeth?

Braces, despite their diverse appearances, share a common goal: applying controlled, gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their desired positions. This pressure triggers a biological process called bone remodeling, which involves the breakdown and rebuilding of bone tissue around the teeth.

Types of Teeth Braces

Fixed Orthodontic Appliances

These are the most traditional type of braces, permanently bonded to your teeth throughout treatment. They use a combination of brackets, bands, wires, and elastics to gradually apply pressure and move your teeth into their desired positions.

Traditional Metal Braces: The classic choice, these are typically made of stainless steel and highly effective. They’re also the most affordable option, but can be quite visible.

Ceramic Braces: These braces offer a more discreet alternative, with brackets made from tooth-colored ceramic material. They blend in better with your natural teeth, but can be slightly more fragile and expensive than metal braces

Lingual Braces: For ultimate invisibility, these braces are bonded to the back of your teeth, hidden from view. However, they can be more challenging to adjust and may affect speech slightly.

Self-Ligating Braces: These teeth braces use a special clip mechanism to hold the wires in place, eliminating the need for elastics. This can lead to faster adjustments and potentially less discomfort. 

Removable Orthodontic Solutions

For those who prefer a less noticeable option, removable aligners offer a flexible approach to teeth straightening. These clear, plastic trays are custom-made to fit your teeth snugly and are worn for 22 hours a day. Every few weeks, you’ll switch to a new set of trays that gradually move your teeth closer to their ideal positions.

Clear Aligners: Brands like Invisalign and ClearCorrect are popular examples of clear aligners. They’re a good option for mild to moderate crowding or spacing issues, but may not be suitable for all cases.

Choosing the Right Teeth Braces

The best type of teeth braces for you will depend on your individual needs, budget, and lifestyle. Consulting with an orthodontist is crucial, as they can assess your specific situation and recommend the most suitable option. They’ll consider factors like the severity of your misalignment, your desired timeline, and your oral health.

Are Braces Painful?

The question of whether teeth braces are painful is a common one, and the answer, like most things in life, is nuanced. While some discomfort is common, the degree and duration of pain varies depending on several factors. This includes initial application, adjustments, mouth irritation and individual sensitivity.

Where To Get Teeth Braces

You can get your braces installed at The Smile HQ in Ilupeju, Lagos. We are located at 73 Coker Rd, Ilupeju, Lagos, Nigeria. You can schedule an appointment ot walk into the clinic to get your braces


Breaking Down Dental X-Rays (Part 1)

Dental X-rays are an important diagnostic tool that can help detect oral health problems that might not be visible to the naked eyes.

What are the benefits?

The benefits of dental X-rays include the ability to detect dental problems that are not visible to the naked eye, such as cavities, gum disease, and impacted teeth. This allows your dentist to diagnose and treat these problems before they become more serious.

So… you might be wondering are they safe?

Well, dental X-rays are generally considered safe, however, they do expose you to a small amount of radiation. To minimize your radiation exposure, your dentist will take precautions such as using a lead apron to cover your body and thyroid gland. They will also use the lowest possible radiation dose to obtain the necessary diagnostic information.

There are four main types: bitewing X-rays, periapical X-rays, panoramic X-rays, and cone beam CT scans however, each is them have their unique purposes.

To be continued…


Understanding Halitosis (Bad Breath) Part 2

What are the symptoms of halitosis?

The main symptom of halitosis is a bad odor from the mouth that is considered beyond a socially acceptable level. The odor can be worse in the morning or after smoking, drinking coffee, or eating certain foods such as garlic.

How is halitosis diagnosed?

Dentists often diagnose halitosis. The diagnosis is based on the person’s history and mouth odor during the dental exam. The entire mouth is checked to see if a cause can be found, such as an infection If the dentist can’t find the cause, he or she will refer you to an appropriate specialist, such as a doctor.

What is the treatment for halitosis?

Treatment depends mainly on the cause of the condition. Causes and possible treatments include:

1. Poor oral health care

Possible treatment

If the bad breath is due to improper oral healthcare, in most cases your dentist will treat the cause of the problem by carrying out necessary oral prophylactic treatments and educating you on proper oral hygeine. The patient will be closely monitored till the problem resolves and will be routinely followed up.

2. Gum disease

Possible treatment

If the cause is an underlying gum disease, the condition may be treated by your dentist. Or you may be referred to an oral specialist–in most cases, a periodontist. A periodontal cleaning often helps to remove the bacteria and tartar or plaque that has built up and is causing inflammation at the gumline.

3. Extensive plaque buildup

Possible treatment

Your dentist or periodontist may recommend an antimicrobial mouth rinse. Also, you may be told to brush your tongue gently each time you brush your teeth to help remove odor-causing bacteria.

4. Health Condition

Possible treatment

Diagnosis and treatment of an existing health condition may get rid of the bad breath.

How can I prevent halitosis?

Halitosis can be prevented or decreased if you:

• Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day.

• Brush your tongue, cheeks, and the roof of your mouth. Most bad breath bacteria live on the tongue. , So brushing or scraping the tongue can make a big difference in your breath.

• If you have dentures, take them out at night and clean them completely before putting them back in your mouth. Talk with your dentist before using deodorizing sprays or tablets. Some only mask the odor for a short time.

• If you smoke, quit. You will have better-smelling breath, and a healthier body overall.

• Keep your saliva flowing by eating healthy foods that make you chew. Carrots and apples require a lot of saliva. You can also chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candies. If you still don’t have enough saliva to keep your mouth moist, your dentist may suggest artificial saliva.

• Visit your dentist on a regular basis. Regular check-ups can find problems such as gum disease, infections, and dry mouth. If you have bad breath and the dentist can’t find a cause, you may be referred to your primary healthcare provider for more follow-up.



Understanding Halitosis (Bad Breath) Part 1

What is Halitosis?

Halitosis is an oral health problem where the main symptom is having an offensive mouth odour. In most cases, finding the cause of the bad breath is the first step toward treating this preventable condition.

Causes: Most times Halitosis / Bad breath starts in your mouth, and there are many possible causes. They include;

1. Food

The breakdown of food particles in and around your teeth can increase bacteria and cause a foul odor. Eating certain foods, such as onions, garlic, and spices, also can cause bad breath. After you digest these foods, they enter your bloodstream, are carried to your lungs, and affect your breath.

2. Tobacco products

Smoking causes its own unpleasant mouth odor. Smokers and oral tobacco users are also more likely to have gum disease, another source of bad breath.

3. Poor dental hygiene

If you don’t brush and floss daily, food particles remain in your mouth, causing bad breath. A colorless, sticky film of bacteria (plaque) forms on your teeth. If not brushed away, plaque can irritate your gums and eventually form plaque-filled pockets between your teeth and gums (periodontitis). Your tongue also can trap bacteria that produce odors. Dentures that aren’t cleaned regularly or don’t fit properly can harbor odor-causing bacteria and food particles.

4. Dry mouth 

Saliva helps cleanse your mouth, removing particles that cause bad odors. A condition called dry mouth or xerostomia (zeer–o-STOE-me-uh) can contribute to bad breath because production of saliva is decreased. Dry mouth naturally occurs during sleep, leading to “morning breath,” and it worsens if you sleep with your mouth open. Chronic dry mouth can be caused by a problem with your salivary glands and some diseases.

5. Medications

Some medications can indirectly produce bad breath by contributing to dry mouth. Others can be broken down in the body to release chemicals that can be carried on your breath.

6. Infections in your mouth

Bad breath can be caused by surgical wounds after oral surgery, such as tooth removal, or as a result of tooth decay, gum disease or mouth sores.

7. Other mouth, nose, and throat conditions

Bad breath can occasionally stem from small stones that form in the tonsils and are covered with bacteria that produce odor. Infections or chronic inflammation in the nose, sinuses or throat, which can contribute to postnasal drip, also can cause bad breath.

8. Other causes

Diseases, such as some cancers, and conditions such as metabolic disorders, can cause a distinctive breath odor as a result of the chemicals they produce. Chronic reflux of stomach acids (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) can be associated with bad breath. Bad breath in young children can be caused by a foreign body, such as a piece of food, lodged in a nostril.

To be continued in the next blog post.


The Procastinator

The first time you felt the pain was about 6 months ago, you were chewing something and arrgh! There it was! A sharp pain that resolved within a few minutes.

It came back again about a week later, this time you had to pop some pain meds before you got some relief.