A Moment of Science

Sweet Tooth

Every time you eat sugar, in-mouth bacteria feed on the carbs and produce acid that harms the teeth.

Assorted candy pile

Photo: Amarand Agasi (flickr)

Eating candy all at once during the day instead of periodically actually reduces the likelihood of getting cavities

Do you love to eat sweets –candy, cookies, caramel apples– everything? But you don’t like getting cavities?  There is a way to eat lots of sugar without ruining your teeth.

Almost nobody wants to cut out sweets entirely. So what are the options?  If you’re going to eat candy, for example, it’s best to eat a bunch all at once instead of eating a few pieces at a time throughout the day.

That’s because every time you eat sugar, or any carbohydrate like potato chips or crackers or whatever, there’s a thirty- to sixty-minute period where in-mouth bacteria feed on the carbs and produce acid.  The acid is what destroys the teeth.  So if you’re snacking on candy several times a day instead of just once, your teeth are exposed to more cavity-causing acid.

It’s also smart to eat candy around or just after mealtimes, because during meals there is an increased flow of saliva that helps wash out your mouth and creates a kind of buffer between the teeth and the bacterial acid.

The best bet, of course, is to lay off the candy.  But of course that’s easier said than done.

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