The Accidental Scientist: Science of Cooking Exploratorium
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Does sugar cause tooth decay? Not exactly . . .

It was the ancient Greeks who first noticed that sweet foods had a bad effect on teeth. One Greek book called Problems asks “Why do figs, which are soft and sweet, destroy the teeth?”

Today we know that the real problem isn’t so much sugar, but the streptococcus bacteria in our mouths that like to feed on it. When they feed on the sweet treats lodged in your teeth, they excrete acids that eat away at your tooth enamel.

As it happens, the amount of sugar you eat doesn’t matter as much as the amount of time it is allowed to remain in contact with the plaque on your teeth (that’s where the bacteria hang out.) So go ahead and eat that pound of caramels—just brush your teeth afterward.

 

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