DENTAL HEALTH AND DIET
Last Updated : 7/25/2010
Dr. Firdaus P Bativala
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The last decade has brought about tremendous changes in our thinking about the relationship of

diet and dental health

. If you haven't heard the latest thoughts on diet yet, you might be in for a surprise.

You Are What You Eat, But....

Except for the beneficial

micronutrient fluoride

, nutrients in the food you eat probably have little effect on whether cavities form in your mouth. Good nutrition certainly contributes to overall good health but cannot ensure that your children will develop strong, disease resistant teeth. Many factors influence whether your children will develop cavities, and diet doesn't matter too much if you pay attention to important steps such as practicing routine oral hygiene, getting enough fluoride daily, and having your dentist apply a protective sealant to the back teeth.

Foods and Tooth Decay


Let's get one thing straight: foods alone do not cause cavities. Many of the foods we eat- including some of the 'valuable' foods from the standpoint of human nutrition - provide nourishment for oral bacteria. They, in turn, secrete acids that can erode enamel and lead to cavities.

We feed the bacteria in our mouth, every time we eat carbohydrates.

These come in two types: sugars (simple carbohydrates) and cooked starches (complex carbohydrates). Once in the mouth, cooked starches (like bread, biscuits, chapattis, nan, etc.) start to be broken down into their component sugars, by an enzyme in saliva. To the bacteria in your mouth, sugar is sugar, no matter what "package" it comes in.

Sweet treats such as cakes, cookies and candies etc, are not measurably worse for your teeth than a hearty meal of rice, dal, chapatti, bhaji, fruit and a glass of lassi!

Refined sugar, sucrose is what people think of as sugar. But other foods contain "sugars" too. Dairy products contain a form of sugar called 'lactose', fruits contain 'fructose', cooked starches, such as chapatti and rice are broken down in the mouth into other sugars, namely, glucose and maltose.



Contributor Information and Disclosures

Dr. Firdaus P Bativala
Consultant Dentist, Bombay Hospital, Mumbai, India.


First Created : 6/24/2002

References

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