Yes you read that correctly! I’ll say it again…Sugar alone does not cause cavities. If you don’t believe me, here’s a little experiment you can do at home. If you’ve got some little ones in the family that are at the age where teeth are coming and going, then you’re in luck! Once that baby tooth falls out, sneak into their bedroom and steal that tooth from under their pillow before the tooth fairy can get to it! Take the tooth and drop into a jar of store bought sugar and leave it undisturbed for a week. Spoiler alert! If you don’t have the time (or the teeth) to conduct this little experiment, let me just tell you…absolutely nothing happens to the tooth.
Now, if we add to that sugar, saliva and bacteria, we’ve crudely created some of the ingredients in the mouth to cause a reaction that could lead to cavities. In a nutshell, cavities are caused by bacteria that live in colonies on the teeth (plaque) and they feed on sugary or starchy foods. The result of the bacteria’s metabolism is acid, tooth destroying acid. Every time we eat anything that contains ANY fermentable carbohydrate, there is a drop in the pH of our mouth. This acidic environment is what causes cavities on our teeth.
I’ve had patients tell me they will sip on a 32 ounce soda throughout the day. This is like a double whammy for your teeth! Yes, soda has sugar which as we learned gets converted to acid, but, soda also contains acid! So to sip on a soda for 4 hours a day, you’re literally giving your teeth an acid bath for 4 hours/day!
I hope that by understanding the process by which we get cavities, we can better prevent them. It’s not just what you eat or drink, but also how much and how frequently you consume those things. For questions about improving your oral health give us a call at 559-673-2268.