How to protect your teeth from tooth decay Part 2: Bacteria and Sugar

How to protect your teeth from tooth decay Part 2: Bacteria and Sugar

by | 15 May, 2017 | Blog, Dental Decay, General Dentistry

Remember that dental decay is a result of imbalance between tooth damage and repair. In the last post, I discussed a few tips on how to enhance the repair and protection side of the equation. Now we will focus on minimising the damage to your teeth by reducing the root causes.

By now, we should realise that the main causes of dental decay are bacteria and sugar. Let’s look at how we can reduce their impact.


In an ideal world where there’s no bacteria in your mouth, there won’t be any dental decay. But let’s face it, no matter how good you are at cleaning, there will always be bacteria in your mouth. The aim then, should be about getting better at minimising the amount of build-ups. Your dentist would be the best person to give you feedbacks on how well you’re doing. In the mean time, there’re plenty of tips and tricks on how you can get better at cleaning (here).


Similarly, it is unrealistic to remove sugar out of our diet completely because carbohydrates are the major sources of energy for our body normal function. The key, then, is in exercising MODERATION. The (Stephan curve) in the previous post explained this very well.

For those who have a lot of holes in their teeth and dental decay in the past, it would be comforting to know that this can be stopped. In the Vipeholm experiment mentioned in the previous post, they identified sugar eaten between meals as a major cause of increased decay rate. They also confirmed that in the test groups, the caramel and toffee group in particular, the rate of decay dropped when the consumption of sugary substances was reduced.

Sweet Drinks

Here’re a few tips that we can use to modify sugar consumption in our diet.

Sticky Sweets

  1. Avoid having sweet drinks especially between meals. Drink water instead. For example, added sugar in “sport drinks” are pretty harmful because you consume them when you‘re dehydrated and your protective saliva is low.
  2. Avoid sugary snacks between meals. This doesn’t mean you can’t snack. There’re plenty of other healthier choices such as fruits, salad, cheese, nuts, sandwiches, etc.
  3. If you want to have sweet foods or drinks, do so at meal times as a treat.
  4. Avoid sticky sweet foods. These tend to hang around your teeth and do damage for a prolong period of time.
  5. Avoid refined or added sugar. Most of processed foods have hidden sugar, so check the package carefully!! Eating and cooking natural food ingredients is a healthier option.
  6. Minimise added sugar in tea/coffee or consider using non-sugar sweeteners. I love coffee and Melbourne coffee is so awesome, why add any sugar at all. ?
  7. Avoid eating sweet foods late at night, definitely not after brushing your teeth. The eight hours you sleep should be teeth repairing time, not the time we feed bacteria.
  8. What about “Diet coke”? I get asked this one a lot. I’m going to say no. Anything carbonated, even soda water, forms carbonic acid in your mouth which erodes your teeth. Not to mention that the bad bacteria that cause tooth decay love to live in acidic condition so you’re promoting their growth.

Diet Coke: Less sugar, plenty of acid

Healthy snack choices

Cheese and nuts



There’re other interesting documentaries “The Truth About Sugar” and “That Sugar Film” made by our local Aussies. They’re very informative and worthwhile to watch. The other resources by the ADA can be found in these “Rethink sugary drink” and “Protecting tiny teeth” campaigns.

That Sugar Film

As we can see, dental decay is a preventable condition and we have the power to change for the better. Is there any surprise then that dental service is not covered under Medicare? Insurance doesn’t cover you when you decide to burn down your own house. In the same way, Medicare doesn’t want to cover us for the conditions we create ourselves. Let’s look after ourselves a bit better today because we worth it.

To your healthy smile.
Dr. Supa
Supa Dental, Melton.