Decay happens when sugars in food and drinks react with the bacteria in plaque, forming acids. Every time you eat or drink something containing sugars, the acid attacks the teeth and begin to dissolve the enamel. These acid attacks can last for up to one hour after eating or drinking. Over time, the acid makes a cavity in the tooth known as tooth decay.
Remember there are often hidden sugars in processed foods and cooked starches as well as natural sugars in fruits. Fizzy drinks, including diet drinks, are acidic and are particularly detrimental to teeth, as they are often consumed throughout the day, thus exposing teeth to acid attack for long periods of time.
In the early stages of decay there are no symptoms but we can see early signs during your dental exam and therefore we advise a check-up at least once a year.
You can help to prevent tooth decay by:
- brushing twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste.
- flossing between teeth every day.
- eating nutritious, balanced meals and minimising snacking.
- applying fissure sealants to children's and teenagers teeth.
Top Diet Tips for your Teeth
- Reduce the amount and frequency of sugar consumption, keeping this to mealtimes, so as to minimise the acid attacks on your teeth.
- Choose healthy snack options.
- Drink milk and tap water.
- Confine fruit juices, cordials etc to mealtimes. Even ones with reduced sugar or no-added sugar labels can contain high amounts of sugar.
- Avoid fizzy drinks, even diet ones, as they have a high acid content.
- Choose sugar-free medications in preference.