Sugar and Tooth Decay

Yes, we all know that sugar is bad for the teeth and leads to cavities.  But did you know that if you eat frequent small amounts of sugar you have a higher risk of decay than if you eat large amounts of sugar less frequently?  This means that the total quantity of sugar that you eat is less important than how the sugar is eaten.

Tooth decay occurs because bacteria normally in the mouth thrive on simple sugars and create acids that destroy tooth enamel.    It takes bacteria less than half a minute to convert sugar to acid.  This acid lasts for 30 minutes.  This means that if you sip soda slowly all day, acid is continually being produced.  A large soda consumed at one sitting will cause less tooth damage.

Parents are advised to moderate the use of toddler sippy cups because they encourage slow sipping – thus slow acid formation.  Sippy cups have been linked to tooth decay.

Sugar is not the only culprit.  Any acidic food or drink – such as diet soda- can cause tooth decay.  Sour candies cause more destruction than sweet candies.

Recent research on sugar and decay can be found on:  “It’s More Than Just Candy: Important Relationships Between Nutrition and Oral Health,” written by Carole A. Palmer, professor of public health at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.

Of course, brushing and flossing after eating won’t hurt.  And regular visits to the dentist too!

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