A slice of pumpkin cheesecake pieThe saying “life is short, eat dessert first” may be a clever way of suggesting that a person should do the fun things they want to do in their lives, but taking this advice literally could offer some dental benefits. Dessert is traditionally eaten after meals for a number of reasons. For one, people don’t want to fill up on empty fats and calories when most meals hold the real nutrition. People also save dessert for last because by the end of the meal they are less likely to eat too much dessert, or may opt to forgo it altogether.

Although there are benefits to saving sweet treats until the end of a meal, doing so may be damaging your teeth.

Benefits of Eating Dessert First

Growing up, children constantly hear that eating too much sugar leads to tooth decay. The sugar itself does not rot our teeth, but it does fuel the process. Our mouths are home to bacteria. Over time, bacteria can build up on our teeth, forming plaque. When we put sugary things into our mouths, the bacteria in plaque eat the sugar that sticks to our teeth or is dissolved in saliva and turn it into an acid. This acid is strong enough to dissolve the enamel coating that protects our teeth, which is how cavities form. The more sugar we put into our mouths, the more fuel these bacteria have to destroy our enamel and eat into our teeth.

When we eat dessert, the sugary residue can stay on our teeth for hours after, giving bacteria a long time to eat the sugar and produce more acid. We can shorten the amount of time that sugar sticks around in our mouth by eating dessert first. Chewing salad greens and other food will help remove a majority of the sugary remnants faster, giving bacteria less time with it. Eating dessert first will not completely protect your teeth from decay, but will make a difference for people who frequently eat sweets with their meals.

Prevent Tooth Decay Without Spoiling Your Appetite

If the thought of eating dessert first doesn’t appeal to you, there are other ways to lessen the impact of dessert on your teeth while still feeding that sweet tooth. Consider making it a habit to rinse your mouth with water or other non-sugary beverages after dessert. Water won’t remove all of the sugar, but can remove enough to help prevent tooth decay. Try to avoid especially sticky options like toffee, taffy, or caramels.

Choosing less sugary dessert options can also help prevent tooth decay and other health problems associated with sugar consumption such as weight gain or diabetes. Plain yogurt with fruit in it will feed your craving with less sugar than cake or ice cream.

Regular Cleanings and Dental Care

Teeth are an important part of your health and should be taken care of regularly. Seeing a dentist every six months for a cleaning reduces the amount of hardened plaque, called tartar or dental calculus, in your mouth, which will also reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. A consistent regimen of flossing and brushing twice a day will also remove plaque build-up on your teeth. Less plaque means fewer bacteria that will use sugar to attack your teeth.

To learn more about how regular cleanings can help you protect your teeth from decay, please call (407) 834-6446 to set up an appointment with Dr. Michael L. Weinstock today.