Nutrition and Oral Health

Foods affect your teeth

Our nutrition has a huge effect on how healthy our mouths are. Food contributes to dental erosion, the structure of our teeth, dental caries (tooth decay or cavities), the condition our gums are in and the level of vulnerability to oral cancer. At the same time, oral health affects how and what we eat. Chewing function or painful mouth disorders can restrict our food intake. Oral health, therefore, plays a massive part in how healthy our bodies are. Similarly, our diet plays just as big a part of our oral health.

Oral health and nutrition go hand in hand, therefore 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 can affect our oral health.

Regularly visit your dentist

Regular visits to your dentist allow checking for gum diseases, as well as precancerous or cancerous lesions. The more sophisticated screening mechanisms can also help to detect early signs of strokes. It is also useful in detecting the evidence of calcifications in the carotid artery or chemotherapy weakening of the jaw. Considering this, it is clear that taking care of your mouth is very important to ensure good general and oral health. Good eating habits, flossing, fluoride and regular brushing help to keep us healthy.

Dental Caries

Dental caries is a bacterial disease, often referred to as tooth decay or cavities. Saliva flow, type of foods consumed, the frequency of eating, bacteria, dental care and dental hygiene could all contribute to the development of caries. The focus on oral health has long been the advice to prevent cavities in young children. Nowadays, specific foods are not singled out as causes or risk factors for the development of caries.

Instead, professionals suggest focussing on good oral hygiene, fluoride, use of sealants and the frequency of eating. These all work to reduce bacteria that damages tooth enamel. For example, plaque is a deposit of bacteria. Though almost invisible, plaque builds up constantly on everyone’s teeth. In time it builds up and uses carbohydrates to produce acids which then attack tooth enamel. After the plaque starts attacking, the tooth enamel may start to break down and this will cause a cavity.

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

How often you eat is important, because our body releases acids to work on the teeth for about twenty to forty minutes after each meal. The more you eat, the abler the acid is to work on the teeth, and these acid attacks can cause decay or erosions.