How do sweet foods and drinks cause cavities?
When you eat sugary foods or drinks, naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugar and create acids as a by-product. These acids then wear down the tooth enamel, making it weaker and more susceptible to tooth decay as well as a host of other problems, including gingivitis.
Snacking on sweets throughout the day or during an extended period of time (such as at a holiday party) is especially harmful, since damaging acids form in the mouth every time you eat a sugary snack and continue to affect the teeth for at least 20 minutes afterwards.
At our office, we know that snacking on sweets and sugary beverages throughout the day can increase the chance of tooth decay. We want everyone to remember that brushing and flossing after snacks definitely reduces bacteria and chances for cavities to form.
To help our patients and their families stay cavity free this holiday season, we have developed five tips for success!
- Balance out your kiddo’s sweets with other foods. Eating sugary and carb-rich foods as part of a balanced meal can lessen their impact on teeth.
- Choose sweets that don’t stick around. Instead of sticky foods that get on and in between your teeth, go for items that dissolve quickly, limiting their contact with your enamel. For example, swap out caramels and candy canes with plain dark chocolate.
- Brush afterwards. Always keep a toothbrush to brush away foods and plaque after you eat. If you’re consuming foods or beverages that are high in acid, like oranges, make sure to wait 30 minutes. Acid can soften the enamel, so brushing too soon can actually damage your teeth.
- Stay prepared. You’ll have no excuse to skip brushing and flossing if you always keep a toothbrush, travel tube of toothpaste and container of floss in your bag or car. If you are traveling during the holidays, pack theses items first so you can be sure you don’t forget them!
- Rinse to refresh. When you can’t brush, rinse your mouth with tap water to wash away food particles and bacteria