When Does Most Tooth Decay Occur?
May 13, 2008 5:58 PM   Subscribe

When does most tooth decay occur?

Obviously it depends on diet, lifestyle etc.

But for the average Western person who eats three meals a day, when does most tooth decay occur? at night? after meals?
posted by jacobean to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by chrisamiller at 6:19 PM on May 13, 2008

I've read that it happens at night, while you sleep and your mouth dries out. The acidic saliva that's normally in your mouth all day long keeps the bad guys at bay. At night, there's less of it there.
posted by knave at 6:59 PM on May 13, 2008

It's acid from food and sugar (sugars create acids on the teeth, bacterial by-product). Swish your mouth with water after every meal and it will save your teeth. Don't believe it? Drop a tooth in a can of Coke for 6 hours a day see how long it lasts. As a control, drop another tooth in a can of Coke, immediately remove and then rinse it off with water. The second tooth will last longer. Not complicated. Acid destroys teeth. The longer in contact with acid the worse it is.
posted by stbalbach at 8:09 PM on May 13, 2008

My mom is a dental hygenist and she says at night (and hence brushing and flossing before sleeping is very important, probably more important than brushing in morning, the latter being mainly for fresh breath after all that sugar breakdown activity that occured in your mouth over night)). Sugars you've eaten during the day (and it didnt have to be just sugar but other food material breaks down into sugars over time between your teeth) corrode and eat into tooth enamel (or something along those lines).
posted by jak68 at 10:10 PM on May 13, 2008

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria. My hygienist told me that it takes 24 hours for the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease to replenish so you really only need to thoroughly clean your teeth once a day. He could be wrong but he seems credible.
posted by sockpup at 12:52 AM on May 14, 2008

stbalbach: to be similar to the question you'd want to dip the first tooth into the Coke and then remove it. (But not wash it off with water.) Leaving it in would be like going to sleep with your mouth full of Coke and not swallowing all night.
posted by BaxterG4 at 12:12 PM on May 14, 2008

Actually, Coke does absolutely nothing to teeth. I tested that theory extensively on my wisdom teeth when they were extracted several years ago. I tried a lot of things, but for the grand finale I left one of them soaking in Coke for a month. Nothing happened. I was floored.
posted by Cobalt at 3:13 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

its not coke by itself; its coke plus the bacteria in your mouth.
posted by jak68 at 10:18 PM on May 14, 2008

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