How do Cavities Develop?
Cavities develop when the foods we eat are exposed to the oral bacteria that naturally live inside our mouths. These bacteria feed on the food residues, creating acidic byproducts that wear down the enamel of our teeth. This byproduct is commonly known as plaque which, over time, calcifies and becomes tartar. The increased buildup in plaque and tarter wears down the enamel of your teeth, resulting in cavities.
How Can I Prevent Cavities?
Key factors in cavity prevention include brushing and flossing regularly, maintaining good oral health, and getting proper nutrition. This includes regular dental screenings and a healthy diet with nutrients such as vitamin C.
Vitamins for Oral Health Found in 100% Orange Juice:
- Vitamin C – This powerful antioxidant helps you develop and maintain healthy gums by supporting collagen synthesis, a necessary component of tissues and bone.
- Magnesium – Having a diet that consistently incorporates magnesium is important in bone formation and health.1
- Calcium and vitamin D (fortified juices) – Calcium aids in building and maintaining jaw bone strength and is a major component of teeth, while vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium in the body.
Vitamins for Bone Health Found in 100% Orange Juice:
- Potassium – Potassium plays an important role in bone mineral density by aiding in acid-base balance and reducing the risk of calcium loss from bones.2-3
- Calcium and vitamin D (fortified juices) – Calcium is essential in building strong bones during youth and keeping them healthy during adulthood. The body requires vitamin D to absorb calcium from the gut and to maintain calcium balance in the body.
The amount of time that your teeth are exposed to sugar is only one factor in cavity development. Food and beverages are not the sole cause of cavities!
Detailed Nutrition Information
Fermentable sugars are a factor in cavity risk. However, sugar intake alone is not the cause of cavities.4-6 A wide range of factors including host behaviors (diet quality and dietary behaviors), oral characteristics (oral microflora, fluoride exposure, saliva production, plaque), oral hygiene and food composition and timing (exposure, frequency) also play a role.4-7
100% Fruit Juice and 100% Orange Juice
Research on the effects of diet on cavity development in humans is limited, as the human diet is varied compared to animals.6 Various studies have found no association with dietary sugar and cavities. A prospective study assessing carbohydrate consumption in children found no association between tooth decay and foods containing medium or high amounts of sugar.8 Two additional studies found no increased risk of cavities in low-income and minority children consuming 100 percent fruit juice 7,9 and a 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) study in 2-to 5-year-old children found no association between 100 percent fruit juice and cavity risk.10
Two longitudinal studies reported an inverse relationship between 100% fruit juice intake and caries in children. A study in children from Iowa age 5 at baseline and followed up at ages 9 and 13 years reported that higher frequency of 100% fruit juice consumption was associated with lower risk of caries.12 Similarly, among a cohort of children from Alabama age 3 to 22 months at baseline with follow up between age 2 and 4 years, there was an inverse association between increased frequency of 100% fruit juice intake and incidence of caries.13
A systematic review reports that prospective studies in children and adolescents found either no or an inverse association between the intake of 100% fruit juice and dental caries/erosion, while the data from randomized controlled trials in adults are mixed.11 However, the clinical trials were typically small, short-term studies that did not take into account the effects of normal plaque and saliva action and exposure. They were also not representative of normal exposure to and intakes of 100% fruit juices, making the results inconclusive.
100% orange juice includes many nutrients known to support tooth and bone health, such as vitamin C and magnesium. Fortified juices also contain calcium and sometimes vitamin D. Together with good oral health habits, 100% orange juice can provide key nutrients that promote good nutrition and oral health.
*Values based on a 2000 calorie diet. FDA rounding rules applied when calculating percent DV based upon 2018 rules. Information is not intended for labeling food in packaged form. Nutrient values may vary based on brand or product types.
- Magnesium. Health Professionals Fact Sheet. Office of Dietary Supplements. National Institutes of Health.
- Seiner. Urolithiasis. 2016;44:51-56.
- Prezioso et al. Archivo Italiano di Urologia e Andrologia. 2015; 87(2):105-120.
- Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press; 2005:265-324.
- Palmer. Nutr Today. 2017;52(2S):March/April.
- Gupta et al. ISRN Dental. 2013;519421.
- Evans et al. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013;113(8):1057-1061.
- Campain et al. Eur J Oral Sci. 2003;111:316-325.
- Lim et al. J Acad Dent Assoc. 2014;139(7):959-967.
- Vargas et al. J Acad Dent Assoc. 2014;145(12):1254-1261.
- Liska et al. Front Public Health. 2019;7:190.
- Chankanka et al. J Public Health Dent. 2011;71:289-300.
- Ghazal et al. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2015; 43(4):366–374.