Naturally our mouths are filled with bacteria. Bacteria feed off of sugar. When you give in to your sweet tooth, you treat the bacteria in your mouth to a buffet. Acid is a by-product of feasting bacteria; thus, creating an acidic environment. Acidic environments are paradise for bad bacteria. Your risk of cavities and gum disease increases.


The simple carbohydrates in sugar and high fructose corn syrup are the easiest things for the bad bacteria to feed. Complex carbohydrates takes longer so they are less lively. Oral bacteria collects in the deep pits and grooves of the biting surface of teeth or in the nooks and crannies between teeth.  They cling to the teeth in the form of plaque, so the acid they produce lands right on your enamel. Acid weakens and softens enamel.  As the enamel gets softer, the bacteria can penetrate into the tooth, dissolving the tooth structure as they go.


When it comes to sweets, some are actually more dangerous and cavity-causing than others.  One of the most important factors in the cavity process is the length of time that sugar stays in contact with the teeth.

This means there are two really bad types of sweets:

  • Sweets that stick to the teeth, like gummy treats, caramels, and other sticky candies.
  • Sweets that you suck on for a prolonged period of time, like peppermints, lollipops, or hard candies.

There are also some sweets that are actually not so terrible for you.  Cookies, cupcakes and cake fall into this category because they contain butter and eggs.  Proteins and fats help balance out the sugar content.  Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is also relatively good for you because it contains milk and fat.


First, you must be committed to keeping your teeth clean.  Brushing twice a day, flossing every night before bed, and using a fluoride mouth rinse is best practice.

Next, choose the sweets that are least likely to stick to your teeth for long periods of time, such as jelly beans, caramels and gummy treats. Also, have sweets as part of a meal instead of a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.  When you are eating a meal, your body is producing a lot of saliva, which is its natural defense against cavities.  So your body fights cavities best during mealtimes.  Instead of snacking on sweets, enjoy them as a dessert!

Use fluoride toothpaste and additional fluoride products. We can recommend some for you.

Lastly, never miss a dental visit.  Cavities do not start overnight.  Your dentist can spot the warning signs.  When you see your dentist regularly, he or she can spot these red flags early and help you make the necessary changes to avoid needing costly dental work.

If you do have a sweet tooth and do not have a dentist, call Implant Dentistry and Perio Rehab with Dr. William S. Neale, DDS. MS. today to set up your dental appointment.  We will give you all the tools you need to stop cavities before they start!