Frequency of eating vs what you’re eating

Nobody likes getting cavities, but we also don’t want to give up what we’re eating. One thing that is not immediately obvious is that what you’re eating is nowhere near as important as how often you’re eating it. Cavities are caused by bacteria eating the carbohydrates that you eat or drink. A good general rule is that anything that can be made into a beer, wine, or liquor can cause cavities. Examples would be wheat/flour, sugar, corn, and fruits. Meats and vegetables cannot give you cavities. When you put one bite or sip of any carbohydrate into your mouth, the bacteria starts eating too for about 20 minutes. During that time, as the bacteria eats those carbs, it excretes acid onto your teeth. That acid is what demineralizes and eats away at your teeth, causing cavities.  After about 20 minutes, your saliva neutralizes that acid, washes that food down, and starts trying to rebuild and remineralize your teeth. Unless you take another bite. Then the 20 minute clock starts all over again. This means that “I’m just going to drink this one sweet tea, but I’ll sip on it throughout the afternoon” equals building cavities all afternoon. Placing a bowl of M&Ms on your desk and just having one every 30 minutes will destroy your teeth. Sipping on Gatorade all afternoon while you work will destroy your teeth. College students who sip on a coffee-milkshake or a energy drink all night while studying in the library…. You see where this is going. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have this stuff! I, Dr. Ross Williams, the dentist, eat and drink all of that stuff! I love it! The point is to drink it and be done. Eat that bag of M&Ms. Just don’t spend the whole 4 hour car trip doing it. Have that sweet tea at lunch. Just don’t bring the refill back to your desk and sip on it all afternoon. Drink your two Dr. Peppers a day. Just get it done. Your teeth don’t care about the quantity of the bad stuff. They care about how long they’re exposed to it. Additional factors that go into creating cavities:
  • Low saliva production (takes longer to wash away the bad stuff)
  • How sticky is your food (Dr. Pepper washes off faster than Skittles)
  • Exposed roots on your teeth (roots get cavities easier than the top of the tooth
  • Quality of your dental hygiene (how well are you brushing, and how often)
Ross Williams, DDS

Ross Williams, DDS


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