You already know that having sugary foods and drinks can cause cavities. Do you know why? Tooth decay is actually an infectious disease caused by a bacterium that turns sugar into lactic acid. This acid is actually what leads to cavity formation. Consuming anything acidic also does damage to your teeth in much the same way as these pesky microbes. It only takes seven minutes for acid to begin eating away at your enamel.
Which Foods Contribute to Cavities?
Some of the worst acidic offenders include: black tea, coffee, citrus fruits and their juices, alcohol, and soda. Both cola and alcohol pack the one-two punch of feeding the bacteria with sugar and causing additional acid damage. Starchy foods like bread, potatoes, and crackers are converted into sugar by your saliva and are food for the bacteria as well as you. Try this experiment at home: Put a saltine in your mouth and suck on it for about thirty seconds. It will soon begin to taste sweet, not salty. This is because your saliva contains an enzyme, salivary amylase, which begins the process of digestion in your mouth.
How Can I Stop the Damage?
You can stop acid damage in just seven seconds. Simply rinse your mouth with water for 7-10 seconds after having anything starchy, sugary, or acidic. Afterwards, chew on sugarless gum sweetened with xylitol—this plant-based sweetener helps stop cavities from forming. Don’t brush your teeth right away, as your enamel will still be softened from the acid. Wait 30-45 minutes, and then brush gently. If you have something stuck in your teeth, use floss to get it out.
Dr. Ryan Hussong, your Polk City dentist, wants to help you keep your smile healthy and beautiful for years to come. If you have questions about oral health and hygiene, or to schedule your next appointment, call Cornerstone Dental today at (515) 984-6001. We see patients from Ankeny, Grimes, Granger, Johnston, Saylorville, Huxley, and the communities north of Des Moines.