Fast Food, With a Side of Cavities

In a fast-paced society, fast food can seem like a blessing. You can consume an entire meal (of sorts) on the go, minimizing the time you have to sacrifice from your busy day for such a minimal task as eating. If the only purpose of food was to fill our bellies and please our taste buds, then perhaps all of our meals would come in a bag, with a side of fries. Realistically, however, the vital practice of eating is meant to provide vital sustenance for your physical and oral health. In many ways, sacrificing quality for quickness can possibly defeat the purpose of eating in the first place.

A Lot of What You Don’t Need

As far as providing nutrients, fast food does wonders for the bacteria in your mouth. Harmful bacteria found in plaque, such as Streptococcus mutans, process sugars, carbs, and starches (which fast food has in abundance) to make lactic acid. The acid production lowers the pH (acid/alkali balance) of your mouth, and when it reaches 5.5 or lower on the pH scale, your mouth is officially acidic. The acids weaken your tooth enamel and create small holes in it where bacteria can nestle and continue producing acid. Because they synthesize these nutrients so quickly, bacteria’s appetite is virtually insatiable, and over time, acid erosion can destroy enamel and leave your teeth vulnerable to cavities.

Not Enough of What You Do Need

Minerals and nutrients that help strengthen and protect your teeth are sadly lacking in most fast food options. The enamel that covers the crowns of your teeth may be the strongest substance that your body produces, but oddly, it does not contain living cells. If it cracks, fractures, or chips, it cannot regenerate itself the way your bones do. However, enamel is also the most mineralized substance in your body, and when it is weakened, it can refortify itself by absorbing additional minerals (mainly calcium and phosphate).

Although most fast food meals contain over 2,000 calories (the recommended daily amount), they do not contain adequate amounts of calcium, phosphate, and other tooth-essential minerals. Relying too much on fast food for sustenance can leave your tooth enamel weak from nutrient deficiency, rendering it nearly useless as protection against bacteria and tooth decay.


As a native Texan, Gregory Wright, DDS, opened his private practice in Southlake, TX in 1992. He and Dr. Victoria Heron are happily accepting new patients from Southlake, Grapevine, Keller, Trophy Club, Colleyville, and all surrounding communities. To learn more, call our office today at (817) 481-7999.