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How to Prevent Tooth Decay

tooth decay

Tooth decay is the start of cavities. When you eat foods that are high in sugar or starch, your mouth forms a bacteria known as plaque, which releases an acid that wears away tooth enamel. When left unaddressed, this acid eventually dissolves part of the tooth, creating a cavity.

Children especially need to avoid sugary and starchy foods to encourage healthy tooth development. If you’re a parent, your child will need your guidance to understand what kind of food is ok and what to avoid. 

Does Sugar Cause Tooth Decay?

Sugar, the secret killer of teeth, is a two-sided threat: the amount of sugar in the food item, and the length of time the sugary food is in your mouth. For example, the longer you suck on a breath mint, hard candy, or cough drop, the longer you allow bacteria to damage your tooth enamel. If you must eat candy at all, it’s safer to go for chewable candy.

Do you put sugar in your morning coffee? If so, you should drink it quickly (within 20 minutes) instead of sipping it for hours each morning. Other sugary snacks like candy bars, pastries, fruit juice, and diet soda should be eaten quickly, as well as high-starch foods like potato chips.

Although solid sugar does no favors for your teeth, liquid sugar is far worse. Liquid sugar can settle in hard-to-reach places like in-between your teeth or in the crevices on the top of your molars. You might need to think twice before you order a sweetened beverage from your favorite drive-through.

Avoid Acidic Foods

Acid is found in sugar, sugar-free soda, grains, some dairy products, processed foods, high protein foods, and supplements. Acid causes the most damage when it’s mixed with sugar. Soda, sweetened coffee, lemonade, etc. are the first foods we tell our patients to avoid. We recommend foods that have low starch and low sugar, such as meat, vegetables, cheese, and sugar-free gum.

“What about saliva?” you may ask. Saliva does help fight cavities by neutralizing acids and combating the bacteria. Some patients, especially smokers, have dry mouths, so they need to be extra careful to avoid foods that can lead to tooth decay.

How to Prevent Cavities

  • Avoid sugary beverages, hard sugar candies, and junk food
  • Brush twice a day and floss at least once a day to remove plaque, get it done as soon as you’re done eating
  • Ask your dentist if a fluoride treatment is right for you
  • Stop smoking

If you have any questions or want more advice on how to guard your teeth against tooth decay, we’d be happy to help clarify. Please call our office at 585.335. 2201. We look forward to hearing from you!