Nutrition Bars Fuel Cavities

Posted on September 20, 2009

Nutrition bars may fill you full of energy but they might also fill your mouth up with cavaties. Sales of energy bars are soaring: athletes, students and moms on the go all have bars tucked away for a healthy snack. But those bars are causing lots of cavities because people eat them places where they can't brush their teeth afterwards.

An NBC reports says the sticky, gooey nature of the bars can lead to problems down the road.
"It's the consistency of these bars," says Dr. Richard Price, consumer advisor for the American Dental Association and a retired Boston-area dentist. "They're sticky and when something is sticky it stays in the mouth longer and the longer it stays in the mouth, the more time bacteria have to work on it. That creates an environment that's not healthy for teeth."

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If we all dutifully brushed and flossed after consuming our beloved carbohydrate-laden bars, this wouldn't a problem. But many of us wolf the bars down in our car or during a lunch-time power walk or eat them at our desk so we can keep working. And that's where we can run into tooth trouble, especially if we decide to couple an energy-boosting bar with a soda or sports drink.

"Bacteria use the stuff in the energy bar to make acid which softens the enamel," says Dr. Jane Soxman, a spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. "If you add to it the phosphoric acid in soft drinks or the citric acid in energy drinks or sports drinks, then it's a perfect storm for tooth decay. Once isn't bad, but it's the repeated exposure, the chronic use. Eventually you'll get a cavity."
This makes sense but it is not good news for hikers and endurance athletes. To reduce cavities from snacks dentists say to chew sugarless gum which improves saliva flow and helps keep cavities from forming. They also say to drink water with the bars, not energy drinks that contain sugar.