5 Causes of Consistent Cavities

4 How Acidic Foods Cause Cavities

What's this? Acidic foods like orange juice can cause cavities? Egads!
What's this? Acidic foods like orange juice can cause cavities? Egads!
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Acidic foods such as citrus and diet soda are also big contributors to tooth decay. And unlike sugary foods, which we discussed in the previous section, acidic foods do more harm than just create favorable conditions for our friend, mutans streptococcus. Where this bacteria feeds on sugar and creates its own cavity-causing acid, consuming acidic foods can eliminate the middleman so the acids can get to work on their own.

Carbonated drinks, fruit juice and even highly acidic food such as bread and fish, can directly erode tooth enamel and cause cavities. Even stomach acids can contribute to tooth decay [source: Bupa]. But there are some steps beyond simply limiting these foods that you can take to minimize the damage (because let's face it, you're not giving up diet sodas or bread).

One simple way could be to time your snacks better. Eating highly acidic food before bedtime is no bueno because our body actually produces less saliva while we sleep and saliva is one way our bodies neutralize damaging acids. Also, pairing a particularly acidic meal with cheese will help because of the neutralizing properties of the cheese [source: British Dental Health Foundation]. And fight the urge to brush your teeth right after eating because the acid gets to work quickly, softening the enamel and making it vulnerable to brushing. Instead, rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash and wait thirty minutes before brushing [source: Save Your Smile].

Now that we've covered how the food we eat can help cause cavities, we're going to dive into some other habits that can contribute to poor dental health.