Candy doesn’t cause cavities! Tooth decay started long before candy was around. Researchers think that tooth decay started around the neolithic period when humans switched from hunter-gathers to a focus on agriculture. So if candy doesn’t technically cause cavities, what does?

How does food cause cavities?

Humans do the majority of chewing with their molars. Carbohydrates are essential for a balanced diet; however, some carbohydrates stick to the tops and sides of some teeth more than others. When sticky foods get stuck to the teeth, they become food for cavity-causing bacteria. 

Food gets broken down into acid by the bacteria. Acid wears on the enamel (the outer layer of your tooth) and causes tooth decay. The ACID produced in the mouth from the bacteria CAN LAST in the mouth for up to A HALF HOUR after you eat. The longer the carbohydrate is in your mouth, the more acid is produced. This means how often you eat can be just as important as what you eat. You can’t out-brush or out floss eating or drinking carbohydrates all day long.

What to do to fix it?

Because carbohydrates are necessary to sustain life, we aren’t suggesting avoid all carbs; however, here are some tips on how to make your food choices work for you:

    • Avoid soft drinks, fruit juices, and sweetening coffee and tea with sugar and milk.
    • Especially avoid sipping carbohydrates and acid-filled drinks throughout the day. 
    • Avoid sucking on hard candies or mints
    • Chew gum sweetened with xylitol
    • Rinse your mouth out with water after eating
    • Have your carbs with a meal instead of a snack on them through the day
    • Consider this cycle: Enjoy carbs — 3.5 to 4 hours — Enjoy carbs
    • Diet soda doesn’t cause decay, but it can cause acid erosion, which weakens the enamel and makes it more at risk for decay. 

Here is a nifty snack guide to help better understand your snack choices when it comes to tooth decay: 

Other Ways to prevent decay?

Although nutrition is a significant factor when it comes to tooth decay, it is still essential to keep up good oral hygiene. Below are some ideas to consider when taking care of those pearly whites:

  • Flossing those areas can help remove the carbohydrates and reduce in between teeth decay.
  • Brush your teeth after every meal or at least two times daily.
  • Flossing should be done for the child until the age of 8. 
  • Fluoride can help protect the enamel from acid. Try not to rinse after using fluoride kinds of toothpaste. Fluoride helps to remineralize enamel.

Dry mouth is also an extreme risk of decay. Saliva helps to buffer and lower the process of acid exposure on teeth. If the mouth is dry and saliva is reduced, it is much more important to clean teeth effectively, use fluoride toothpaste, and avoid high carbohydrate foods.

Our team at Legacy Dental is passionate about providing individuals and families with positive dental experiences. One way we achieve that is by educating our patients on total body health and how oral health and nutrition affect tooth decay. 

Our patients come from all over Salt Lake City to receive kind highly-skilled dentistry, including Millcreek, East Millcreek, Holladay, Sugarhouse, Murray, Midvale, South Salt Lake, Sandy, Taylorsville, West Jordan, South Jordan, Riverton, and Herriman.

To learn more about nutrition advice for tooth decay, please contact us at 801-278-4223 or visit us at www.legacydental.org