If cavities are caused by bacteria, why can’t I eat sugar?

Jelly beans, Chocolate, and Peeps, Oh My!

Like most of us, Mutans Streptococci, our bacterial villian, loves sweet treats. With Easter just around the corner he is firing up his jackhammer and getting ready for a feast!

Sugar is his food of choice because the more he eats of it, the more acid he produces and the more powerful he becomes. Acid is his secret weapon – it enables him to dissolve the protective enamel of our teeth.

If our teeth’s trusty sidekicks, Toothbrush, Dental Floss, and Pik fail to show up to clean and wash away the acid, Mutans is able to penetrate the tooth further, creating a tiny pit where he can reside more comfortably. As time goes by, he digs the pit deeper and deeper until he’s got a nice cozy home called a cavity. The only way to  evict  him is to drill into his hole, scoop him out, and fill the now-empty space with expensive dental material. That costs a pretty penny.

The moral of the story is: Refuse to feed the Mutans! And make sure your teeth’s trusty sidekicks make regular appearances. In other words,

  1. Avoid food and drink that contains acid directly (soft drinks, sports and vitamin drinks, sour candies, etc) and those that contain sugar and convert it to acid (any candy, especially chewy kinds that stick in your teeth, cake, potato chips (stick to your teeth).
  2. Eat foods that neutralize acids, provide minerals and vitamins to repair tooth enamel and stimulate saliva (high fiber fruits and vegetables, water, especially fluoridated), dairy products.

For a great list of dos and don’ts:
The Top 7 Best and Worst Foods for Teeth

Stay tuned next time for how to fight cavities while eating Easter candy!