Tooth Decay

This occurs when the plaque turns sugars into acid that causes the tooth to decay. It does not matter what form the sugar comes as, whether in sweets, cakes, biscuits, sugary drinks or fruit, it all leads to the same end – tooth decay.

Anything that sticks to your teeth is obviously worse, such as sticky sweets. Once the sugar is consumed, it usually takes the saliva over an hour to neutralise it and this is why ‘sucky’ sweets and repeated drinks of sugary tea, coffee, cordials and fizzy drinks are so bad.

Action needed

You can tackle decay prevention in a number of ways:

  1. Cut sugar out altogether – this is obviously the best way, but it is hard to do! If you find that you simply cannot give up sugar in your tea or coffee try a sugar substitute for example Hermasetas or Canderel. Although there is a slight taste difference initially it really will preserve your teeth.
  2. Minimise the number of times in the day in which you consume sugar. A good method is to take all sugary food, drinks and sweets at meal times, and make sure that drinks taken between meals do not contain sugar. This is really the best way to prevent decay.
  3. If sugar is taken between meals then it can be thoroughly rinsed out of the mouth shortly after it is taken, this will greatly reduce the chances of decay occurring. This can be achieved by simply taking a cup of sugar-free tea or a glass of water, etc after eating any sugary snack. If you can do this also after a meal, then so much the better, e.g. a sugar-free coffee after pudding.
  4. Anything that increases the flow of saliva will help remove the sugar and neutralise the plaque acid. This can be done with, e.g. savoury foods, non-flavoured crisps and chewing gum. Sugar-free chewing gum, for example, will allow for the neutralisation of plaque acid within about 20 minutes.

It is always important to remember that tooth decay is not the result of too little brushing but the result of too much sugar. Your dentist will examine your teeth at your regular inspection visits. Advice will be given if thought necessary.

If we have reason to think that your teeth are ‘at risk’ we may recommend that we place preventive fissure sealants (‘plastic coats’ for teeth). These stop sugars reaching vulnerable tooth surfaces.