It’s a saying as old as time. You’ll rot your teeth if you eat too many sweets. It’s what has kept most kids from bingeing their Halloween candy and having chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (that and mom’s disapproving gaze). But then, it turns out that sweets don’t rot your teeth in the way we first thought. Additionally, there are other culprits besides sweets, such as potato chips and raisins, that are just as likely to give you tooth decay. Let’s look at how food damages the teeth for more understanding of the subject.
The mechanism of tooth decay
Excess sugar doesn’t actually rot your teeth. It has more to do with what happens AFTER you eat the sugar. Tooth decay occurs when acid-producing bacteria act on the food residues in the mouth. Their acid is what causes tooth decay. The bacteria live on the plaques in the teeth, and their acids gradually degrade the enamel cover of the teeth.
What’s more, is that these bacteria act mostly on carbohydrates like sugar and starch. You’re even less likely to get tooth decay from overeating chocolate because your saliva naturally washes away the residues, and there’s nothing for the bacteria to stay on. Generally, the faster the food is washed away, the less likely it is to cause tooth decay.
Can you eat sweets as often as you want?
Well, no. Even though the stickiness of the food has a strong influence on the rate of tooth decay, some research has also linked it to the frequency of eating. Think about it like this: If you eat a mildly sticky candy bar, your saliva might remove most of the residue. However, the more you eat, the more candy is left for bacteria to act on. This means a higher chance of decay.
The thing you can do is to eat in moderation, preferably within meals. The mouth has a way of cleaning itself during and after meals. The movement of food and the activity pushes most things in the mouth down to the stomach. By interspacing your candy snacks between meals, you can limit your teeth’s exposure.
What about sodas?
Sodas are associated with tooth decay because they are full of sugar that loves to hang around after the rest of the drink has found its way ‘down the hatch.’ Besides giving bacteria something to get busy with, sodas are also guilty of tooth decay because they have a high acid content. As we’ve seen, acid is basically the whole reason for tooth decay.
If you want to avoid tooth decay, you should brush frequently.
Obviously! Also, maybe throw in some visits to the Golsen Dental Alpharetta, GA twice a year. Even before we knew how bacteria caused tooth decay, we knew brushing prevented deterioration. Now that you know exactly how that works, if you brush after every meal, you can eat candy all day if you want to. We’re not even going to consider the healthy repercussions of taking sodas and sweets all day, but dentally speaking, you’re good to go as long as you brush the residues away.