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Nearly everyone has experienced tooth decay — one of the most common kinds of dental diseases, its prevalence has actually increased all over the world in recent times. Though people tend to have better oral hygiene habits now, their diets are still so terrible that their teeth rot away.
Treating tooth decay may come in the form of a simple filling, but it may also consist of a root canal treatment procedure or even an extraction, depending on the degree of damage.
So why is it that so many people suffer from tooth decay? The main reason is that the micro-organisms which cause tooth decay exist in everyone's mouth and there is nothing we can do about it. They form a part of the natural ecosystem of micro-organisms and cannot be completely eradicated.
How Does Food Cause Tooth Decay?
The conditions which favor bacterial growth are multi-factorial, but the two most important modifiable tooth decay risk factors are oral hygiene and diet.
Diet, in particular is very important since some foods act as a better fuel source for decay-causing bacteria than others, and so by avoiding their intake we can minimize the likelihood of tooth decay occurring. There are some common and recurring themes on the list of foods that are bad for teeth. Most of them are rich in sugar, difficult to clear from the oral cavity, sticky or are acidic in nature. Decay-causing bacteria breakdown sugar from our food into acids which act on the surface of the teeth and destroy small parts of it. These small niches then get populated by more bacteria which destroy more of the tooth.
It's no surprise that candy tops the list of things that you should avoid if you want pristine teeth. Candy is loaded with sugar and often has caramel that sticks to the surface of your teeth and gets stuck between small crevices making it quite difficult to remove. Candy is also often eaten in between meals, which results in the oral environment shifting towards the acidic and thus promotes demineralization of the teeth. Hard candy in particular is sucked on for minutes on end and also carries the additional risk of causing minor cracks or fractures to the teeth.
The best thing to do is to avoid candy completely, however if you must have it then have it at the end of a meal and not in between. Also, make sure that you brush your teeth soon afterwards so as to minimize the amount of time the bacteria have to use this candy as a fuel source for their growth.