No one likes to hear they have a cavity. No one wants to get one. Yet so many people have had at least one cavity in their lifetime.
Why does tooth decay and form cavities?
While it is well known that sugar causes cavities, what isn’t known is that cavities are not caused by how much sugar you eat in a day, but rather how frequently you consume the sugar in a day.
So how does eating sugar give you a cavity? The answer lies with bacteria.
Just like we have bacteria that live all throughout our body, we also have bacteria that live in our mouth. These bacteria need food to survive and sure enough they eat sugar.
The Real Cause of Cavities
Every time you eat or drink something containing sugar, the bacteria in your mouth get to eat too, and they release acid as a by-product of their sugar metabolism. It is this acid that actually causes tooth decay and ultimately forms a cavity, not the sugar itself! The acid continues to get produced for 20-30 minutes after you are done eating. So, if you are eating multiple times a day, you are creating multiple acidic environments in your mouth and drastically increasing your risk of getting a cavity.
Let’s use an example. Two children go out on Halloween to trick or treat together and come home with the same amount of candy. The first child sits and eats the entire bag of candy all at once. The second child has a piece of candy now, a piece of candy 30 minutes later, another piece of candy an hour later, another piece of candy 20 minutes after that… and continues this process over time. Who do you think is more likely to get a cavity? The answer is the second child, the one who is constantly snacking!
Sipping Your Way to Cavities
Instead of snacking throughout the day, adults who get cavities tend to “sip” their way through the day. Having a coffee with sugar in it and sipping it for hours and hours, or doing the same thing with a soda (even a diet soda!), or doing the same thing with Vitamin Water or a sports drink like Gatorade are all the same as snacking on candy throughout the day. They’re all sugar exposures no matter where the sugar comes from.
The way to avoid getting a cavity is to reduce your number of sugar intakes in a day. You do this by combining your sugar consumption (whether it be coffee or soda or sweets or candy) with a meal, so that the entire meal counts as one sugar exposure. Follow up this meal with brushing your teeth or, if you can’t brush, we recommend chewing sugarless gym with xylitol (our favorite gum is called Epic). If you follow these pointers you have yourself a recipe for a happy, cavity free life!
Do you have a cavity that needs to be fixed? Are you looking for a dentist in the Farmington, CT area? If so, we are accepting new patients. Please call us at 860-676-2288 today to schedule your appointment.