Let’s start with the basics. Teeth are made up of mostly calcium and phosphate (hard minerals). Cavities form when three things are present: cavity causing bacteria, complex carbohydrates (cavity causing foods and drinks), and time. When cavity causing bacteria are present on teeth (inside of plaque) and complex carbohydrates are consumed (present in sugar, crackers, and most foods), a cavity is very likely to form over time. This happens because when a person eats complex carbohydrates, the bacteria uses the complex carbohydrates to produce acid. When acid is present in the mouth, the hard minerals (calcium and phosphate) that make up teeth are pulled out. Over time, enough hard minerals are pulled out of the teeth, due to acid exposures, to form a cavity.

Acid exposures in the mouth cannot be completely eliminated. Plaque and bacteria form very quickly after brushing and flossing, and most foods we eat contain complex carbohydrates. The best thing a person can do to lessen the amount of acid exposures is to eat and drink complex carbohydrates at once instead of over a long period of time. If you give two kids a bag of skittles and one child eats them all at once, and the other eats one skittle every 30 minutes, the first child will be far less likely to develop a cavity. This is because the first child has one acid exposure when they eat the whole bag, and then their mouth will neutralize and that’s the end of it. The second child’s mouth will have an acidic environment when they eat the first skittle, neutralize itself, and then have a separate acid exposure each time they eat another skittle

Certain beverages (mostly everything except water) should also be drank at one time instead of sipped throughout the day for the same reason. It is best to allow your child to drink beverages that contain sugar with a meal only. Pop, energy drinks, and other carbonated beverages should be drank all at once, or eliminated altogether because they are acidic. It is also important to make sure your child is consistently removing the plaque and bacteria from their teeth with proper brushing and flossing. Happy brushing and flossing! See ya later cavities.

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