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  • Writer's pictureDr. Saumitra Saravana

Diet and your Oral Health

In many ways we are what we eat and our understanding on how our diet effects our Oral Health is changing. A recent study by the World Health Organization has found that our Diet is far more important at preventing Dental Caries than Fluoride use or even Hygiene. All things being equal the number one thing that will reduce the occurrence of Dental Cavities is to reduce your intake of “Free” Sugars.

This does not mean that you stop brushing or flossing your teeth but realizing that just doing those things may not prevent the occurrence of cavities. Sugars and other fermentable Carbohydrates are digested by Bacteria and produce acid. High concentrations of this acid will cause your Enamel to go soft.

So what are "Free" sugars?

These are any sugars that may be naturally present in foods such as Honey, Syrups and Fruit Juices.They also include sugars added artificially by the manufacturer. Free sugar does not include sugar present in grains, milk and dairy products, vegetables.

The other major diet related concern when it comes to Oral Health is Dental Erosion caused by acidic drinks. Drinks high in acid will cause your teeth enamel to weaken and ultimately come off and expose the underlying soft tooth structure. This will result in sensitivity, cavities and even tooth loss.

Dental Erosion is becoming a major concern due to the increase in the amount of acidic drinks that are being consumed each day. The drinks causing most damage to your teeth are, sports drinks such as Gatorade followed by Red Bull and Coke followed by Diet Coke and different fruit juices.

Saliva is nature’s great healer. It re mineralizes and re hardens all the spots softened by bacteria and acidic drinks. But it needs time to do this and is not an instantaneous process. In many ways it's a tug of war between the good guys (Saliva/ Fluoride) and the bad guys (acidic drinks/bacteria) and staying healthy depends on tipping scale towards the good guys. If the mouth stays acidic for long periods of time due to eating food with high sugar content repeatedly, Saliva will be fighting an uphill battle and you will have cavities and or dental erosion.

So what can we do?

a) Limit the amount of total sugars that we consume each day. This is around 10 cubes of sugar or less each day. It is also a good idea to not keep snacking but giving reasonable gaps between your food intakes.

b) Certain foods such as Milk, Dairy products, Iron rich food, Broccoli etc are known to help in re mineralizing our teeth and should be encouraged.

c) Fluoride will aid in re mineralizing your teeth and making them less susceptible in the first place. So if you are county water GREAT! If you want to have bottled water switch to one where there is Fluoride added to the bottled water. People who are on well water can have Fluoride supplements given to their children.

d) Avoid consuming acidic drinks. You can have a Soda or two but try limiting them during meal time.

Avoid swishing or holding the drink in your mouth for long durations.

e) It might be beneficial to wait for an hour or so before you brush your teeth if you have had acidic foods or beverages to help your teeth harden.

f) Special precaution is needed if you have gum recession or a dry mouth condition as you might be more susceptible to dental erosion or cavities.

Armed with all this knowledge we wish you bon appétit!

If you any questions about your oral health, don't hesitate to call Pearl Family Dental at 540 370 8504 to schedule Free consultation today!

Source :"Acidic beverages increase the risk of in vitro tooth erosion" Nutr Res. 2008; 28(5): 299–303

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