Preventing decay from forming is always the most ideal option. Decay starts when one of two things happen

decayed teeth of an infant due to baby bottle sucking

Poor Oral Hygiene

When food or sugary beverages are not removed from surfaces of the tooth bacteria that eat sugar set up shop. As they eat the sugar that has been left  they produce an acid that eats away at the tooth, left long enough a hole eventually forms – this is a cavity.


Decay does not always form from a poor diet, some things that are very healthy for the rest of your body can be hazardous to your teeth. For example milk, everyone knows milk does the body good, but if you sip on milk all day long the sugar in milk (lactose) can totally destroy your teeth. We see this with small children who sleep with their bottles- “baby bottle tooth decay”.

Here’s How You Get Cavities

  • Sugar in food and beverages combines with bacteria in your mouth to form acid.
  • Diet or “sugar-personal” pop contains its own acid.
  • Acid in soft drinks, whether they contain sugar or not, is the primary cause of weakening tooth enamel.
  • The acid attacks your teeth. Each acid attack lasts about 20 minutes.
  • The acid attack starts over again with every sip.
  • Ongoing acid attacks weaken your tooth enamel.
  • Bacteria in your mouth cause cavities when tooth enamel is damaged.

How To Reduce Decay

  • If you have a receding gum line, acid does more damage below the gum line than above it – especially for adults.
  • Drink soft drinks in moderation.
  • Don’t sip for extended periods of time. Ongoing sipping prolongs sugar and acid attacks on your teeth.
  • Use a straw to keep the sugar away from your teeth.
  • After drinking, swish your mouth out with water to dilute the sugar.
  • Never drink pop or juice before bedtime. The liquid pools in your mouth and coats your tongue and teeth with sugar and acid.
  • Read labels. Regular pop is high in sugar. And diet or “sugar-personal” pop is high in acid. Sugar and acid are bad for your teeth.
  • Drink water instead of pop. It has no sugar, no acid and no calories.
  • Use a toothpaste with fluoride in it or a prescription strength fluoride
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least onceGet regular checkups and cleanings to remove bacteria
  • Talk to your dental care professional to make sure that other factors aren’t contributing to your susceptibility to decay such as dry mouth often caused by medications or digestive problems such as acid reflux.
BeverageAcid* Low = BadSugar per 12 oz. Serving
Pure Water7 (neutral)0 tsp
Barq’s Root Beer411 tsp
Orange Juice3.89 tsp
Propel Fitness Water3.41 tsp
Red Bull3.310 tsp
Sprite3.310 tsp
Mountain Dew3.312 tsp
Diet Coke3.10 tsp
Gatorade2.912 tsp
Sobe Energy Citrus2.612 tsp
Lemonade2.610 tsp
Pepsi2.511 tsp
Battery Acid10 tsp

Protecting Your Teeth

Fluoride is one option that many patients choose to use, when a professional or home application is used the fluoride incorporates into weakened tooth structure to help heal the damaged area. Sealants are protective coatings that can be applied to the surface of the tooth reducing the likely hood of decay .

 Early Detection of Decay

Detecting decay early means that often times you can intervene with a small filling, making the appointment more enjoyable, faster and less expensive. New technology such as the Kavo Diagnodent allows dentists to detect decay at its earliest stage. Digital x rays have also improved our diagnostic abilities.