Valentine’s Day is upon us again, and we all know what that means: CANDY!
We know that too many sweets can have an adverse effect on teeth, but what many don’t know is why that is…
The Real Culprit
The sugar itself is not actually what causes cavities and tooth decay. The culprit is actually the bacteria that lives in our mouths and what it does with the sugar. When we eat sweets, the bacteria in our mouths feed on it as well. When it does, it produces acid, and it is in fact the acids produced by the bacteria that wear down the enamel on our teeth, which can lead to cavities and decay. The bacteria feeds on all types of sugars and carbohydrates in the same manner.
So why does it seem worse with candy than it does with something like, say, bread, or yogurt, or fruit? Well, the answer is that those things don’t usually stay in the mouth as long. Candy is often sticky, so it adheres to teeth and other parts of the mouth more, so it stays there longer, giving the bacteria more time to feed on it and produce more acid, which then combines with saliva to produce plaque.
The Solution: Brush and Floss
Also, eating or drinking a little bit of sweets over an extended period of time is actually more harmful to teeth than consuming more of them all at once. That acid produced by the bacteria sticks around in your mouth for about thirty minutes after you eat or drink something sweet, and that clock restarts every time more sweet stuff goes in. So, tooth-wise, it is actually better to eat a big piece of cake or down a soda all at once than it is to eat little pieces of candy or sip a soda along the way. The amount of sugar doesn’t matter to your teeth as much as how long the bacteria have to feed on it.
Of course, there is a fairly easy solution to getting that sugar away from the bacteria so the germs can feed on it and produce the acids that harm teeth: after you finish your sweet treat, brush and floss the remnants away. If it’s not there, it can’t cause damage.
Happy Valentine’s Day from us here at the office of Dr. Dawn Gayken, DDS! If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment, contact us today!