Carbohydrates are an important part of a balanced, healthy diet, but they are also one of the main culprits in tooth erosion and decay. Since we can’t cut carbs out our diets completely we have to understand how the carbs cause cavities, so we can prevent them.
When you eat carbs, you are not just nourishing yourself; you are also nourishing the cavity forming bacteria in your mouth. The bacteria that cause cavities feed on the carbs in your mouth. During the feeding process the bacteria cause your mouth to become more acidic. This acid in your mouth starts eroding the tooth, beginning the first steps towards tooth decay.
Since you can’t avoid eating carbs altogether, what should you do to avoid cavities?
1. Eat the right carbs- Avoid eating sticky carbs that cling to your teeth. If the food is stuck to your teeth it provides a constant source of food to the bacteria, causing more erosion.
2. Don’t let food stick around- Rinse out your mouth and floss after eating. Don’t brush immediately after eating though, since that makes the acid action that’s taking place on your teeth worse.
3. Reduce the acidity of your mouth- You can do this by chewing gum after a meal, this stimulates the production of saliva, neutralizing the acid in the mouth. Also, try avoiding carbonated beverages and orange juice, since those drinks are extremely acidic.
4. Don’t add unneeded acid- Try avoiding extremely acidic foods like carbonated beverages and orange juice. If you do drink them, make sure to follow it up with a swirl of fluoridated water in order to rinse away the acid, lower mouth acidity, and promote the remineralization of the tooth.
5. Eat the carbs in one go- Have your carbs as part of a meal instead of snacking on them throughout the day. This limits your mouth to carbohydrate exposure only during meal times.