The Hidden Enemy: 8 Surprising Sources of Tooth Decay

If you’ve ever had a cavity, you’ve experienced tooth decay. Tooth decay is normal to a certain extent. Our teeth gradually weaken as we age and become more susceptible to decay. However, some products, foods and beverages can cause rapid decay at any age. Before the Treasured Smiles Adult and Cosmetic Dentistry experts explore hidden sources of tooth decay, let’s explore tooth decay a bit more.

Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth break down sugar and produce plaque and acid, weakening enamel. Enamel is the protective outside layer of your teeth. As you lose enamel and your teeth decay, you experience increased sensitivity and pain. Untreated tooth decay can result in the formation of small holes or cavities in the teeth. 

Regular dental hygiene practices like brushing, flossing and dental check-ups are essential for preventing and managing tooth decay. Additionally, because the bacteria responsible for tooth decay thrive on sugar, you can decrease your risk of tooth decay by limiting your sugar intake. You likely already know that sugary sodas and candies are bad for your teeth, but these eight tooth decay-causing products might surprise you! 

Caution: These 8 Items Can Destroy Your Teeth

Dried fruits

Although dried fruits offer several health benefits, including vitamins and fiber, they can be very sugary. The drying process removes most of the water from the fruit, leaving behind a higher concentration of the fruit’s natural sugar. This concentrated sugar makes dried fruits taste sweet and chewy but can cause tooth decay. So, it’s a good practice to rinse with water and maintain proper oral hygiene after enjoying dried fruits.

Cough drops

Cough drops are often sugary because sugar can temporarily alleviate throat irritation and make the cough drop more palatable. However, the sugar in cough drops can also contribute to tooth decay. Look for sugar-free options to get the throat-soothing benefits without the added sugar. Always read the product label to understand the ingredients and choose an option that aligns with your preferences and oral health needs.

Sports drinks

Our bodies use sugar for energy, so it’s no surprise that many sports drinks are high in sugar. Many sports drinks contain sucrose or high fructose corn syrup to deliver a fast supply of carbohydrates for energy. Instead of damaging your teeth, look for sugar-free sports drinks that contain essential vitamins, minerals and electrolytes to keep you running – even without the extra sugar.

Fruit juices

We often consider fruit juices healthy – “fruit” is in the name! However, many fruit juices contain natural sugars that promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth. Additionally, the acids in fruit juices can erode tooth enamel over time, increasing the risk of dental problems. Enjoy fruit juices in moderation and preferably with a meal. Afterward, rinse with water and brush.

Starchy foods

The starch in high-carbohydrate foods breaks down into sugar. Bacteria in the mouth feed on these sugars and produce acids, which erode tooth enamel and lead to cavities. Starchy foods like bread, crackers, chips, fries and pasta can also stick to the teeth, providing a constant food source for harmful bacteria. Always brush your teeth after enjoying a starchy meal!

White wine

Although delicious, white wine is very acidic, and the acidity can weaken tooth enamel over time. Weakened enamel can make teeth more susceptible to staining from other foods and beverages. It also increases the risk of tooth sensitivity and cavities. Although white wine is less staining than red wine, its acidity can still harm dental health. Drink in moderation and rinse with water afterward to help neutralize acidity.

Flavored water

Many people enjoy flavored waters as a way to increase hydration. Unfortunately, these drinks often contain added sugar. Additionally, some flavored waters have acidic additives or natural fruit flavors that can erode tooth enamel. Check the ingredients label and opt for products with no added sugars or acidic components.

Coffee with added sugar

Coffee is an acidic beverage. Acids weaken enamel. But in addition to acid, many coffee shop drinks and flavorful coffees are very sugary. The combination of sugar and acid can wreak havoc on your teeth. Rinse with water after drinking coffee to reduce the damage to your enamel.

Reduce Tooth Decay and Protect Your Smile

You can reduce your risk of tooth decay by regularly flossing and brushing your teeth – and avoiding or limiting consumption of these decay-causing products. Additionally, schedule your routine dental cleaning today to ensure your teeth stay healthy and plaque-free.