Austin Dentist Discusses S. Mutans—The Reason Candy Causes Cavities

Aside from the joy that comes with summer being just on the horizon, children (and inner-children) may also jump in excitement to learn that June is National Candy Month! Before you dig into countless treats with exuberant abandon, however, your Austin dentist, Dr. Van Wicklen, reiterates a warning that most of us should be familiar with—too much candy can lead to cavities. We add to this warning by explaining how, exactly, candy and other sweets can lead to the destruction of your teeth.

The Origins of Dental Plaque

You know that sticky, gross-feeling stuff on your teeth that you might run your tongue across sometimes (usually after you haven’t brushed in a while)? It’s called plaque, and while most people are familiar with it, fewer people understand the dangers it can pose if left on your teeth. Dental plaque is formed by hundreds of different kinds of oral bacteria and helps protect the microbes from your mouth’s defensive measures, like saliva. Some germs, such as Streptococcus mutans, undergo dangerous processes that can damage your teeth and gums as plaque clings to them.

Hungry, Hungry Mouth Germs

Streptococcus mutans bacteria devour sugar and other fermentable carbohydrates from the food and beverages you consume, converting these nutrients into lactic acid that erodes your tooth enamel. Typically, the strong and highly-mineralized substance can absorb minerals from your teeth to regain its strength when weakened. Unfortunately, bacterial acid attacks also deplete your teeth of essential minerals, leaving enamel vulnerable until the acid dissipates (usually after about 30 minutes). The more often you eat sugar-loaded candy and sweets, the more often your tooth enamel is exposed to acid, and in time, acid erosion may outpace the rate at which enamel can recover. Once it’s compromised, enamel cannot regrow or repair itself, and your tooth can soon fall victim to infectious tooth decay and the cavities it forms, as well as the toothache that can announce its presence.

Protect Your Smile from Cavities with Help from Your Austin Dentist

To learn more about protecting your teeth from cavity-causing influences, or to seek treatment for one or more existing cavities, speak with your Austin dentist as soon as possible. You can schedule an appointment with Dr. Van Wicklen by calling 512-448-3131. Located in the 78704 area, we proudly serve the cities of Austin, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Bastrop, Bee Cave, Cedar Park, and all surrounding communities.