Nutrition and Oral Health

Nutrition and Oral Health

The foods that we eat have a huge effect on how healthy our mouths are. Things like dental erosion, the structure of our teeth, dental caries (tooth decay or cavities), the condition our gums are in and our vulnerability to oral cancer are all affected by the foods we eat. At the same time, how and what we eat is also affected by our oral health, and can be restrictive because of chewing function or painful mouth disorders. Oral health therefore plays a massive part in how healthy our bodies are and our diet plays just as big a part in our oral health.

Oral health and nutrition go hand in hand, therefore promoting good nutrition means good oral health. However, certain foods can cause plaque development, which means a higher risk of oral diseases. Stimulating saliva through certain eating patterns may reduce the risk. How nutrition and oral health interact is very complicated, and they both have the potential for negative and positive effects on oral health.

Regular visits to your dentist mean that they are able to check for gum diseases, as well as precancerous or cancerous lesions. It is also possible, with more sophisticated screening mechanisms, that early signs of strokes can be seen. This is done if there is evidence of calcifications in the carotid artery, or chemotherapy weakening of the jaw. Taking this into consideration, it is easy to see why taking care of your mouth is very important in ensuring good health and more specifically good oral health. This can all be done through good eating habits, flossing, fluoride and regular brushing.

Dental caries are often referred to as tooth decay or cavities and they are a bacterial disease that is caused by things such as saliva flow, what kinds of foods are eaten, the frequency of eating, bacteria, dental care and dental hygiene. The focus of oral health has, for many years, been to prevent cavities in young children, always stressing that the diet has an influence on how cavities form. Specific foods are not singled out as causes or risk factors for the development of caries these days, instead the focus is on good oral hygiene, fluoride, use of sealants and the frequency of eating. These all work to reduce bacteria that damages tooth enamel. Plaque is a deposit of bacteria. Though almost invisible, plaque builds up constantly on everyones teeth. The plaque that builds up uses carbohydrates to produce acids that then attack tooth enamel. After the plaque starts to attack, the tooth enamel may start to break down and this is what causes a cavity.

The only foods that are known to affect dental caries are sugars (fruit sugars, milk sugar, table sugar) and cooked starches (cookies and bread etc), they are known as fermentable carbohydrates. These carbohydrates produce acid and eventually cause tooth decay, and this is why eating habits are sometimes more important than the kinds of food eaten in preventing tooth decay.

How often you eat is important, because acids are released to work on the teeth for about twenty to forty minutes after each meal. The more you eat, the more able the acid is to work on the teeth, and these acid attacks cause decay.

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Nutrition and Oral Health

The foods that we eat have a huge effect on how healthy our mouths are. Things like dental erosion, the structure of our teeth, dental caries (tooth decay or cavities), the condition our gums are in and our vulnerability to oral cancer are all affected by the foods we eat. At the same time, how and .... read more


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