Dental Caries

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

dental caries, the technical term for a cavity, describes the destructive outcome found in teeth following the bacterial-acidic attack on tooth structure. Those possessing a “sweet tooth”—a craving to eat sweet foods such as candy and pastries—are at greater risk of developing tooth decay because of its association with sugar consumption. The evidence that sugar plays a fundamental role in the development of dental caries is well documented and overwhelming. Sugar and other fermentable carbohydrates serve as a substrate for certain bacteria in dental plaque, and acid produced by this metabolic process induces the demineralization of enamel, making the tooth more vulnerable to decay.