Ask Mar­i­lyn

Albuquerque Journal - Parade - - Personality - By Mar­i­lyn vos Sa­vant Send ques­tions to mar­i­

We learned in school that su­gar is nei­ther an acid nor a base. It’s a neu­tral sub­stance. So why does it cor­rode our teeth and cause cav­i­ties?

—Amanda Lin­den, Flagstaff, Ariz.

This is one of those ques­tions to which you may not want to hear the an­swer! But here goes: Hu­man mouths are home to hun­dreds of species of bac­te­ria. (I know: Ugh.) One in par­tic­u­lar ( Strep­to­coc­cus mu­tans) feeds on car­bo­hy­drates. It ex­cretes lac­tic acid as waste, and that acid is what eats into tooth enamel and cre­ates cav­i­ties. So don’t blame your fa­vorite treats! Just be sure to brush of­ten.

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