Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, begins when destructive bacteria that live in your mouth attach themselves to your teeth. The fuzzy-feeling, pale-yellow plaque that forms on your teeth is actually a film created when a bacterial colony has formed on your tooth. These bacteria feed on sugar and excrete an enamel-busting acid onto your teeth, which eventually leads to holes or “cavities” in the tooth.
Reducing your intake of sugars and acidic foods and drinks will significantly decrease the fuel bacteria need to destroy your teeth.
When asked if they drink sugary drinks like soda, a lot of people don’t include energy drinks when in fact drinks like Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar can be just as bad or worse for your oral health. Even the sugar-free versions of these drinks contain citric acid, which enhances flavor and lengthens shelf life, but also erodes tooth enamel.
Research shows that 30-50% of young people drink these drinks, many not realizing the permanent damage they are doing to their teeth’s enamel. Without enamel’s glossy protection, teeth are more sensitive and prone to cavities.
Consider drinking water instead of sports or energy drinks. If you do consume these drinks, drink and rinse your mouth with some water and wait 20-30 minutes before brushing. Brushing right away can spread the acid around and scrape off acid-softened enamel, causing more damage.
Sugar gets a well-deserved bad rap for causing tooth decay, but it certainly has its accomplices. We are aware of sugars in soda pop, sweets and candy. But when starches found in foods like bread and cereal mix with amylase, an enzyme in saliva, it creates acid that erodes teeth and makes them more susceptible to decay.
Though raw fruits can help with saliva production and naturally scrub your teeth, dried fruits are high in sugar and stick to teeth, leading to tooth decay. And fruit juices, even unsweetened, can be acidic and contain sugars that wear enamel thin and cause dental caries.
Rinse your mouth with water to wash away food particles that cause plaque between brushing.
Brush your teeth twice a day, for about three minutes per time. And do a good job. Many of us are in a hurry and just brush the teeth people see, or where we think we feel plaque. Bacteria live on all surfaces of our mouth, including the gum line, molar grooves and tongue, so it really does take about three minutes to do a decent job. Flossing should take about three minutes a day too.