Lions & Tigers & Gummy Bears, Oh, My…

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Do lions and tigers and bears get cavities? Rarely. But not like we humans do. Diet is a huge part of getting (or not getting) cavities. You may have gotten really strong white teeth from your grandma (not the wolf, haha), and your dad showed you the precise technique for keeping your teeth clean because father knows best. But is that enough?

There are certain foods that the sugar bugs (bacteria, for the purists out there) really LOVE!!! Unfortunately, they are also the ones we tend to love too. Candy, pastries, potato chips, raisins, gummy bears, sugary soda; the list could go on for pages. They love these foods because the sucrose (sugar) molecule is bite-sized, so to speak. The bugs don’t need to waste energy to cleave a bond between two sugars before eating. They just chow down. Then they pee and poop (an acid) which erodes the enamel until the dentin is exposed, and then they eat that too. Now you have a cavity.

So, anything sweet, sticky or processed is junk food heaven for the bacteria. Sweet, because of the small sucrose molecule. Sticky, because then they have a pantry full of food until you remove it. Processed, because it is already partially broken down for them and tends to be sticky.

Why potato chips? And raisins? And soda? Potato chips aren’t sweet, but they are sticky. Raisins are good for you but are sweet and sticky. Soda is sweet PLUS acidic, so it is a double whammy. If you brush your teeth after eating, no problema. But most of us don’t. So, rinsing your mouth with plain water after eating will remove a lot of the food debris in your mouth and will decrease the food available for the sugar bugs. Less food means less acid and less destruction of your teeth.