Sweets, Acids, and Your Teeth

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You’ve probably heard that you should avoid sweets because they’ll damage your teeth, but have you ever wondered if that claim is accurate? Or have you ever asked yourself why sugar could potentially damage your smile?

Of course, you can always enjoy treats that aren’t full of sugar. For example, you may consider salty snacks such as pretzels or popcorn. However, sugar may not cause the problems you think it does.  You see, foods either contain acids or create acids in your mouth. Acid—not sugar—causes problems in your mouth. However, sugar creates an environment where bacteria can thrive, which leads to more acid.

Fortunately, your saliva will negate the effects of acid. You can promote saliva simply by chewing gum or eating an apple. Similarly, a substance known as tannin can also reduce acids.  Some foods and beverages that contain tannin include red wine, coffee, tea, and chocolate.

However, some chocolates are better for your teeth than others. This is partially because the tannin in chocolate is in the cocoa. Since dark chocolate has more cocoa—and also less sugar than white and milk chocolate—it’s probably your best choice.  You should also avoid chocolates with chewy fillings that can damage dental work and stick to your teeth. In reality, you should avoid foods like taffy and caramel altogether.

Finally, while you may be tempted to brush your teeth after you eat something sweet, you should wait at least half an hour. The acids from the food you eat will weaken the outer layer of your teeth, meaning your brush will cause additional damage.  After half an hour, your enamel will harden itself again.

To learn more about foods that are good for your smile—or about how you could hold off the acid in your mouth—give us a call at 435-637-9590. Dr. Lund, Dr. Markham, and our entire team at Price Pediatric Dental will gladly address any questions and concerns you have.