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What is Causing My Cavities?

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nicole Galarza
  • 43rd Medical Squadron
One of the leading causes of tooth decay in the Air Force is the frequent consumption of beverages containing high amounts of sugar. Many young Airmen who visit the dental clinic tell us they have inherited bad teeth, but the science says they simply picked up bad habits. One of the most damaging habits is sipping on sugary drinks throughout the day.

Here is a basic description of how tooth decay occurs. First, sugar contained in sodas, energy drinks, sweetened coffee, fruit punch, etc., combines with bacteria in our mouths to form an acid. This acid, along with the acid already contained in beverages, attacks and weakens the teeth's enamel or outer layer. As the teeth enamel weakens, holes begin to form either along the edge of an old filling or in a new spot all-together. These holes are also known as cavities.

Some of the most popular drinks that most often contribute to tooth decay are soft drinks. However, other seemingly safer drinks like energy drinks, sweet tea and juices actually contain nearly as much sugar and acidity as soft drinks!

Understanding this chain of events should not persuade you to eliminate drinks containing sugar totally from your diet. Moderation is the key to reduce your risk of developing cavities resulting from drinks containing high amounts of sugar.

Some recommended tips to follow are:
- Drink sugary carbonated beverages at meal times only
- Use a straw to keep sugar away from your teeth
- Do not  drink beverages containing suger over an extended time period
- Avoid sugary drinks before bedtime
- Alternate drinking soft drinks with water
- Chew xylitol gum three times a day for 20 minutes

Following these recommend tips and brushing twice a day along with flossing can definitely help you maintain a smile you can be proud of as well as reducing your time in the dental chair.

Don't forget to visit your dentist regularly also!  If you have any questions about the information mentioned in this article call us at the Pope Dental Clinic at 570-3002 or go to