Jan. 4, 2002
Volume XXXV, No. 1


Year in Review


Sticky foods can cause tooth decay


We all know that brushing and flossing regularly can help prevent tooth decay. Keeping food and drink from sticking to teeth also can be a major factor in maintaining good oral health.

However, most people are not aware of which foods are the worst. Breads, cookies, crackers and potato chips are more likely to get stuck in teeth than others. Caramels, jellybeans, raisins and milk chocolate bars often are thought to be sticky foods, but really are easily removed from teeth.

When our mouths begin the digestion process for our bodies, saliva turns remnants of food and drink trapped in teeth to simple sugars. Bacteria thrive on these sugars and begin tooth decay.

Dr. Roger M. Weed, associate professor of general dentistry at the Health Science Center, explained that "when bread is broken down in a person's mouth, the formidable carbohydrates in the bread can create simple sugars for bacteria to live on."

Sugar in food or produced in our mouths from food is what damages teeth. "Brushing after meals is a good idea. But people can keep their teeth healthy as long as they brush and floss at least once a day," Dr. Weed said.

Plaque takes 24 hours to harden. Removing plaque before it hardens prevents tooth decay. "Brush as often as you like," Dr. Weed said. "But if you can't brush, rinse."