Sugar, saliva, and bacteria lead to a formidable combination
that may lead to tooth decay. After eating sugar, particularly
sucrose, and even within minutes of brushing your teeth, sticky
glycoproteins (combination of carbohydrate and protein molecule)
adhere to the teeth to start the formation of plaque. At the
same time millions of bacteria known as Streptococcus mutans
also adhere to the glycoprotein. Although, many oral bacteria
also adhere, only the S. mutans is able to cause cavities.
In the next stage, the bacteria use the fructose in a metabolism
process of glycolysis to get energy. The end product of glycolysis
under anaerobic conditions is lactic acid. The lactic acid creates
extra acidity to decrease the pH to the extent of dissolving
the calcium phosphate in the tooth enamel leading to the start
of a cavity.
Preventative measures include frequent brushing and flossing
to prevent plaque build up. A diet rich in calcium and fluoride
in the water lead to stronger tooth enamel. A diet of more complex
carbon hydrates that are low in sugar and no sucrose snacks between
meals is also a good preventative measure.