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Oral Care

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Teeth

2. Snacking and sipping may be hurting your teeth. continued...

Remember, the acids created by the bacteria that attack all that carbohydrate-laden stuff you swallow -- whether it's that spoonful of sugar in your morning coffee or that nicely glazed donut -- are what get at your teeth. So the more often you eat sugars and other carbs, the more often those acids get a chance to chip away at your choppers.

In short, it's better (for your teeth, at least) to pig out once than to eat a lot of little meals.

"If you're eating an entire meal, that's really one encounter, one acid attack," Harms says. "But if you're sipping a soft drink, or eating anything with a carbohydrate in it… each time you take a sip, you're going to create an acid attack on your teeth. We have a saying: 'Sip all day, risk decay.'"

Pollick says, "The clearance of that sugar from the mouth takes about 20 minutes. During that 20 minutes, the bacteria on your teeth are very active… and they convert that sugar to acid." But then within 20 minutes, the acid on your teeth is "sort of" neutralized. "But then if you have another sugar product in your mouth, your mouth is constantly exposed to those bad effects of the sugar and bacteria in your mouth, and you're constantly getting this demineralization of the tooth surface." That, he says is what leads to tooth decay and the softening of teeth. "Eventually," he adds, "[this leads to] pain and root canals; or maybe the teeth need to be pulled. It's truly devastating for some people."

3. Yes, you can get too much fluoride, but…

The naturally occurring mineral fluoride can help prevent tooth decay. That's not disputed.

How much fluoride is too much is the question. Because of ever-increasing sources, including naturally occurring; fluoride added to community water supplies; and what you get in mouthwashes, toothpastes, and elsewhere, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended in 2010 to limit the amount of fluoride in community drinking water, dropping it from a previous range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter to a flat 0.7.

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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