We all know that sugar causes cavities (bummer right?). What many people don’t know is that sugar isn’t the only concern. The actual cavity causing culprit is fermentable carbohydrates (glucose, fructose, and sucrose). Refined sugar found in candy and other sweets is actually a type of fermentable carb, so it is most certainly to blame for causing cavities. However, fermentable carbohydrates which aid bacteria in demineralizing a tooth, or causing a cavity, can be found in most foods we eat (sorry to be the bearer of bad news).
The good news is eating fermentable carbohydrates does not necessarily guarantee a person will get cavities. Cavities need three things to form which include: cavity causing bacteria, fermentable carbs, and time. Some lucky ducks out there don’t have the right kind of bacteria present in their mouth or don’t have enough of it to make them high risk for getting cavities in the first place. Most of us do, so we need to be mindful of how many times throughout the day we eat fermentable carbs. We can also work at limiting the amount of bacteria on our teeth by brushing at least 2 times a day for 2 minutes, flossing, and using mouthwash (especially an anticavity rinse!).
It is best to eat fermentable carbs all at once rather than spacing it out over an hour or more. If you’re going to eat sweets, crackers, chips, breads, drink juice etc., it’s ideal to eat them at a set meal or snack time instead of snacking continuously throughout the day. You can learn more about the reason and science behind this in our blog article about acid exposure and cavities. Thanks for reading, happy brushing!