I love sugar as much as the next person. In fact, sugar is one of the most addictive substances. So what can we possibly do to keep from having this kind of havoc wrought on our teeth? Brushing regularly is good however dietary changes are much more effective. Limiting sugar intake and tooth exposure to sugar are the cornerstones of dietary preventative care. After you have any sugar, it doesn’t leave your mouth the moment you swallow.

Sugar will remain in the mouth for 20 minutes, hiding in the grooves of your teeth and the lining of your cheeks and tongue, continuing to feed the bacteria and allowing them to grow and cause more damage. Things like hard candy are extraordinarily terrible because they keep your mouth coated in sugar and increase the amount of time that the bacteria have to cause damage. Sugary drinks are also hard on the teeth because we tend to sip on them which coats the teeth over and over with sugar and refreshes the supply to the bacteria.

Sodas, colas, and the sort are even worse, because they have an immense amount of sugar in them and they also are very acidic. They give your enamel an acid bath with every sip, making an easier job for the bacteria. Sometimes when it has been a long, hot day it’s nice to crack open a cold soda but knowing the damage each sip does, you may be inclined to put a straw in it so that your teeth aren’t bathed in an acid sugar concoction. Additionally an alternative is sugar-free gum with xylitol in it, such as the brand name Spry. The bacteria in your mouth will consume the xylitol and die, however this only happens if there is no sugar in your mouth (remember the 20 minuet rule). This will kill the bacteria if they don’t have any more sugar soon (please note that this should not be used to replace brushing your teeth, rather as a supplement to your dental health).