Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Timmy. Timmy loved to eat cookies, cakes, and any sugary snacks he could get his hands on! He would spend his days licking massive lollypops and chewing gummy candy bears. Whenever Timmy’s mommy would ask him to brush his teeth, he would stomp real hard and shake his head. “No, no, no!” Timmy would say. “I don’t want to brush my teeth!”
One afternoon while playing videogames Timmy felt a small pinch inside his mouth. “What could that be?” He thought. Instantly, Timmy rushed to the mirror and opened his mouth as wide as he possibly could. He was shocked to see a gang of bugs dancing all over his teeth. Timmy sprinted to his Mom and frantically explained his findings. “There are bugs!” He exclaimed. “They are all over my teeth!” The next thing Timmy knew he was sitting in the chair with a dentist studying his teeth intensely. Finally, she proclaimed, “You have a bad case of the sugar bugs, but we can take care of them.” The dentist got out her special equipment and with lots of water, washed those sugar bugs right out! A sense of relief escaped Timmy. The dentist explained that sugar bugs become active when you eat and drink sugary things. “It is important to brush your teeth every morning and night to keep those sugar bugs from partying on your teeth.” The dentist said. Timmy was so happy the sugar bugs were gone. From that day on Timmy vowed to limit the amount of sugar he ate and drank, along with brushing his teeth twice every day!
Although sugar bugs don’t actually exist, this fable does a great job explaining dental decay and the importance of a good diet and adequate brushing to kids. Dental decay begins with plaque, sticky bacteria present on your teeth. When bacteria are in contact with sugar, including carbohydrates, they begin to produce acid. The acid byproduct breaks down the hard exterior of your teeth, the enamel. This process forms a cavity into the tooth. Dental x-rays allow dentists to see the extent and depth of tooth breakdown by acid. Dental treatment is depended on the spread of decay into the tooth. Children are more susceptible to dental decay than adults due to their thinner enamel and traditional more sugary diet.
As noted in the tale, there are several ways to prevent tooth decay. First, develop a proficient oral hygiene routine. Ensure you are brushing at least twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. The abrasion of the toothbrush helps break up the plaque while the fluoride hardens the enamel. The ions in fluoride join forces with the calcium in enamel, forming a harder exterior layer. The strengthening barrier decreases the effect of acid on enamel. Second, decrease your sugar intake and decrease snacking. Sugar comes in many forms. The two main types found in our diet are white sugars and carbohydrates. White sugar is mainly found in sweets; where carbohydrates are found in foods such as breads and crackers. Decreasing the amount and frequency that these sugars are introduced into the oral cavity will decrease the amount of acid produced by bacteria. Third, clean between your teeth. When you eat, food particles get trapped between your teeth. Flossing reaches areas the toothbrush can’t. Flossing prevents cavities from forming between the teeth. Lastly, partake in regular dental visits. The dental hygienist uses special instruments to remove tartar. Tartar is hardened plaque that cannot be removed with a toothbrush. Regular dental check-ups, also, allow the dentist to check your overall oral health and address any concerning issues.
With Halloween right around the corner and the plethora of sugary snacks at our fingertips, it is important to keep “The Legend Of The Sugar Bug” in mind. Decrease your sugar intake, keep up on your oral hygiene regimen, visit your dentist regularly and don’t let those sugar bugs bite!