But what causes tooth decay and how can we prevent it? Most people believe that eating sweets alone is the main culprit, but the truth is that that is not so.
It is acid that causes tooth decay, and not the kind of acid that comes from drinking a glass of orange juice. In fact, it is really lactic acid, a byproduct of the fructose in sugar, mixing with the natural bacteria in the mouth which causes tooth decay.
The process is fairly simple. Sugar combines with proteins in the mouth and that forms plaque. We all know plaque well. Next, the fructose component of sugar is converted to glycogen by bacteria and this forms lactic acid. Those of us who exercise and do anaerobic activities know all about lactic acid. It is the feeling of burning that you feel in your muscles if you have exercised too hard and are out of breath.
Lactic acid is at least ten times more acidic than white vinegar, and many people use white vinegar as a household cleaning agent. That’s very acidic!
In order to combat this formation of lactic acid, we must take steps to raise the PH levels in our mouths. Many toothpastes now contain sodium bicarbonate which is alkaline and raises your mouth’s PH level.
You don’t have to give up sweets completely. If you brush your teeth after each meal, floss at least twice daily and have regular teeth cleanings, there should be little lactic acid buildup. However, it is always a good idea to keep your sugar intake as low as possible. Other health issues like obesity, which can lead to diabetes, are also caused by too much sugar.
Good oral health is an important part of staying healthy in every way. Heart health depends on having a healthy mouth and all kinds of systemic inflammation can originate in the mouth. So start with your mouth. Watch what you eat and drink, brush frequently, visit your dentist regularly and your mouth should stay healthy for years to come.