Streptococcus mutans might sound like something that would give you a sore throat. It is actually the name for the oral bacteria that cause tooth decay. We aren’t born with these little guys, but become exposed to them when our parents or other caretakers shower us with affection, or share cups and utensils with us as babies. Only 1% of the…
Streptococcus mutans might sound like something that would give you a sore throat. It is actually the name for the oral bacteria that cause tooth decay. We aren’t born with these little guys, but become exposed to them when our parents or other caretakers shower us with affection, or share cups and utensils with us as babies. Only 1% of the population is immune to S mutans, and they are the only ones that can eat Thanksgiving dinner without being concerned over the cavity-creating potential of such a meal. Knoxville dentist, Dr. Jim Erpenbach, explains how you can have your pumpkin pie and eat it, too, without worrying about an onslaught of tooth decay issues.
Sugar Doesn’t Cause Cavities….Exactly
You might think Christmas is the real cavity causer, with all of the sugary sweet treats. Certainly, foods full of sugar contribute to tooth decay, but don’t cause it directly. S. mutans have the biggest sweet tooth of all, and after they feast on sucrose, they are able to adhere to your teeth and produce loads of acid that can destroy tooth enamel. Thanksgiving, for most Americans, is centered on the protein of poultry, but the majority of your calories will come from starchy foods like rolls, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and corn. Later on, you’ll likely indulge in several types of pies and ice cream. Anything with starch or sugar can be utilized by those crafty bacteria in your mouth.
Of course, enjoying the Thanksgiving feast is not something your dentist will tell you to avoid. An occasionally over-indulgent meal isn’t a guarantee of cavities. Just remember to be especially diligent with your oral hygiene on a day like Thanksgiving. You may find yourself more or less eating all day. That’s a lot of chances for S mutans to produce plaque and acid in your mouth. To avoid a damaging buildup, brush your teeth before, somewhere in between the festivities, and after all of the eating is done. If you decide you still have a little room and go for a late night turkey sandwich, be sure to brush your teeth and floss before you go to bed.
Dental Checkups in Knoxville
Enjoy your family togetherness this Thanksgiving, and if anyone in your family is due for a dental checkup, contact Dr. Erpenbach. To schedule an appointment, you can call our 37919 dentist office at 865-584-8630. We are happy to serve patients in West Knoxville, the Bearden area, and surrounding neighborhoods.