You're just about to take a big bite of something decadently sweet, perhaps some sticky taffy or a double chocolate candy bar, when you hear a nagging voice in your head saying, "If you eat that, your teeth will fall out!" Sound familiar? Many of us can recall being told that if we eat too many sugary foods they will destroy our teeth. But did you know that the amount of sugar you eat is not the deciding factor in tooth decay?
The bacteria in your mouth feed on carbohydrates, like sugar, and produce an acid that eats away at the enamel of your teeth. The longer the sugar is in your mouth, the longer the bacteria can feed and produce acid, and the longer the acid can work on the enamel [source: Fries]. In other words, it's not about the amount of sugar you eat, it's about how long the sugar is in contact with your teeth [source: ScienceDaily].
This means that eating three candy bars, then immediately brushing your teeth, is less harmful to your dental health than eating one candy bar without brushing. Slowly dissolving candies, like lollipops, are also a bad idea, as is sipping on sugary drinks all day, since both situations allow sugar to hang around your teeth for a long time.
So the moral of this story is this: enjoy the sweets, but make sure you brush afterward!