5 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Teeth
2. Snacking and sipping may be hurting your teeth. continued...
Remember, the acids created by the bacteria that attack all that carbohydrate-laden stuff you swallow -- whether it's that spoonful of sugar in your morning coffee or that nicely glazed donut -- are what get at your teeth. So the more often you eat sugars and other carbs, the more often those acids get a chance to chip away at your choppers.
In short, it's better (for your teeth, at least) to pig out once than to eat a lot of little meals.
"If you're eating an entire meal, that's really one encounter, one acid attack," Harms says. "But if you're sipping a soft drink, or eating anything with a carbohydrate in it… each time you take a sip, you're going to create an acid attack on your teeth. We have a saying: 'Sip all day, risk decay.'"
Pollick says, "The clearance of that sugar from the mouth takes about 20 minutes. During that 20 minutes, the bacteria on your teeth are very active… and they convert that sugar to acid." But then within 20 minutes, the acid on your teeth is "sort of" neutralized. "But then if you have another sugar product in your mouth, your mouth is constantly exposed to those bad effects of the sugar and bacteria in your mouth, and you're constantly getting this demineralization of the tooth surface." That, he says is what leads to tooth decay and the softening of teeth. "Eventually," he adds, "[this leads to] pain and root canals; or maybe the teeth need to be pulled. It's truly devastating for some people."
3. Yes, you can get too much fluoride, but…
The naturally occurring mineral fluoride can help prevent tooth decay. That's not disputed.
How much fluoride is too much is the question. Because of ever-increasing sources, including naturally occurring; fluoride added to community water supplies; and what you get in mouthwashes, toothpastes, and elsewhere, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended in 2010 to limit the amount of fluoride in community drinking water, dropping it from a previous range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter to a flat 0.7.