NEWSLETTER ISSUE 5 – APRIL 2021 – DIET AND ORAL HEALTH
Do you know that:
- People who drink 3 or more glasses of soda each day have 62% more tooth decay, fillings and tooth loss than others?
- And there are 10-12 teaspoons of sugar in a single can of soda?
How to make diet your teeth’s best friend?
There is an intimate relationship between diet and oral health. The old saying “everything in moderation” probably holds true for everything in life including what we are about to discuss. Let’s explore what are the main culprits that can destroy teeth but also the saviours that can actually strengthen your tooth structure.
The Bad and The Ugly
When we discuss food categories that are detrimental to dental health the main components are sugar and acid.
Sugar has been shown to cause a variety of problems including diabetes, obesity and also the biggest cause of dental decay.
Sugar in simplified terms is broken down by the bacteria in the mouth and this process produces acid. This acid basically softens the tooth structure and causes areas of weakness and if the sugar stays in the mouth for long enough or rather frequently enough the tooth slowly dissolves and that’s where the holes start to form.
Now you’re probably thinking this dentist is insane, telling us to not have any sugar or acid for the rest of our life!
Here are some recommendations instead of totally banning sugars and acid:
- Limit the amount of sugar you have; remember everything in moderation
- If you are going to have something sweet, limit it to during meal times (eg. Breakfast, lunch or dinner), try to have it at once rather than many times throughout the day.
- Avoid sticky and gooey sweets, the longer it stays in your mouth the more time it has to damage your teeth
- If sweeteners are needed think about using non-sugar sweeteners/artificial sweeteners (eg. Xylitol or Stevia)
- Acidic and sugary foods/drinks should be quickly accompanied with a rinse of water as that helps to balance the acidity and hopefully flush away some of the sugar.
- Sugar-free/diet drinks are better than conventional counterparts however they still generally have an acidic potential to be aware of
- CAUTION: DO NOT brush right after having something acidic as the tooth is already softened and you can brush your teeth away! Please wait an hour before brushing.
The Good and The Protective
It is not all bad news, as there are a variety of foods can also benefit your oral health.
Once again the protective nature of these foods are based on their ability to stimulate the saliva and increase the amount of minerals within the mouth that can stop the softening process caused by acid and sugar.
Examples of protective foods:
- Milk, cheese, eggs, nuts, wholemeal wheat and bran all have the capacity to help stop the process
- Chewing gum is also very beneficial as it can also stimulate saliva but ensure it is sugar-free and non-fruity flavoured.
- Tap water is also our preferred drink as it contains fluoride and has a neutral pH which means it is not acidic and helps hydrate the body.
Interesting yet scary dentistry facts #5
- It is estimated that oral diseases affect nearly 3.5 billion people in the world.
- More than 530 million children suffer from dental caries of primary teeth (milk teeth)
- Factors contributing to oral diseases are an unhealthy diet high in sugar, use of tobacco and harmful use of alcohol (World Health Organization https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/oral-health)
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