It’s Not Just Sweets
Well it’s not just sweets that can cause cavities. Cavities are caused by tiny little bacteria called Streptococcus mutans.
These bacteria live in our mouth all the time. There is essentially no way to get rid of them. They like to eat any fermentable carbohydrate. That is, any sugar from candy, sweets or soda, as well as crusty bread, crackers or chips; Even raisins or bananas.
Long After You Finish That Snack
Now, this isn’t happening just when we are in the act of eating. It’s all about oral clearance. (How long food sticks around in your mouth). Depending on how sticky a food is, the sugars from these foods can be feeding this bacteria for anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes after we’ve finished it. That soda may be completely out of your oral cavity 20 minutes after you drink it, but those gummy bears can stick in your teeth for 90 minutes or more. And as far as those crackers you keep going back to every 10 minutes? Your oral cavity is never completely clearing those as long as you keep snacking. This is why kids who sleep with a bottle of milk get tooth decay. Their teeth are constantly bathed in the sugar from the milk. Their mouth never gets a break to recover.
Why does this matter? While bacteria are feeding, they give off waste products. These are very acidic and lower the pH levels in your mouth. This is what eats away at your enamel and causes cavities. Our best defense against tooth decay is to minimize the length of time for this pH drop.