Waving down the ice cream truck and sitting on a step eating an ice cream…
Candy and other foods with high sugar content are obviously bad for your teeth, but what many people do not realize is that starchy foods are just as bad for their teeth. The problem with these starchy foods, such as potato chips, pasta and bread is that the sugar content is not as readily known. You do not think about how much sugar you are consuming while snacking on a bag of potato chips, like you would think about had you been eating a bag of candy instead, because they are not sweet. The unfortunate part is that they are doing just as much damage to your teeth.
The Simple Sugars in Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta and potato chips, start as a starch, but then break down into simple sugars once you eat them. Some carbohydrates break down right in your mouth, while others do not break down until they get into your digestive system. Those that break down in your mouth leave the sugars lingering on your teeth until you brush them away. These carbohydrates work together with any bacteria in your mouth to create tooth decay, just like the sugar found in your favorite sweets would do. The bacteria that are present in your teeth join with the simple sugars in carbohydrates to produce acid that eats away at your teeth. In essence, what is happening is that the acid is eating away at the minerals in your teeth, causing your teeth to break down or demineralize.
Getting Rid of the Sugars in your Mouth
When you eat carbohydrates, they do not start causing cavities in your mouth right away. It is when they are left to sit in your mouth that the decay begins. The longer that you let the food sit in your mouth, the more bacteria that it joins with, creating more harmful acid in your mouth. Foods that tend to stick in your teeth or get wedged in the spaces in your mouth are more harmful because they will not likely get washed out of your mouth with your drink or even your saliva.
This does not mean that you cannot eat carbohydrates or enjoy a snack of potato chips once in a while. What it does mean, however, is that you should be aware of the danger of carbohydrates on your oral health. Try to drink water while consuming any type of carbohydrate to encourage the sugars to be washed out of your mouth and try to brush your teeth shortly after eating to limit the amount of time that the bacteria and sugars have to work together to create the harmful acid that causes tooth decay.