You've probably been told since you were a kid to do everything you can to avoid cavities. But if you're like most of us, you may still be a bit hazy on the facts about tooth decay. Learn how to separate truth from fiction and you'll be on your way to a trouble-free smile.
1. Myth: Sugar Is the Only Thing That Causes Cavities
"The truth is, acid produced by bacteria in your mouth is the cause of cavities," says Kimberly A. Harms, DDS, an American Dental Association spokeswoman.
Any carb you eat can start that process. That includes sugar as well as rice, potatoes, bread, fruits, and vegetables.
2. Fact: Acid Causes Tooth Decay
Acidic foods can break down your teeth's outer shell (called the enamel), weaken the tooth, and make teeth more likely to decay.
"The bacteria responsible for tooth decay produces acids," says Misty Horn-Blake, DDS, a dentist in John...
It's called "pop" in the Midwest and most of Canada. It's "soda" in the Northeast. And it goes by a well-known brand name in much of the South.
People across North America use different words to identify a sugary, carbonated soft drink. But however they say it, they're talking about something that can cause serious oral health problems.
Soft drinks have emerged as one of the most significant dietary sources of tooth decay, affecting people of all ages. Acids and acidic sugar byproducts in soft drinks soften tooth enamel, contributing to the formation of cavities.
In extreme cases, softer enamel combined with improper brushing, grinding of the teeth or other conditions can lead to tooth loss.
Sugar-free drinks, which account for only 14 percent of all soft drink consumption, are less harmful1. However, they are acidic and potentially can still cause problems.
American kids consume an insane amount of sugar — often double or triple the federal recommended dietary guidelines — and these empty calories are often blamed for everything from obesity to hyperactivity in the schools. What happens when we take it away?
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco and Touro University decided to find out by recruiting 43 volunteers, ages 9 to 18, and putting them on low-sugar diets and measuring all kinds of things about how their bodies changed as a result. All of the study participants — 27 of whom identified as Latino and 16 as African American — were obese and had at least one other metabolic health issue, such as high blood pressure or a marker of fatty liver.
The study participants underwent extensive testing that include...