Dental health is influenced by a number of factors, including food choices and dietary preferences. It is commonly known that tooth decay involves the interaction of saliva, oral bacteria, fermentable sugars and the tooth. The interaction of these factors over a period of time causes the development of tooth decay.
Refined sugars found in confectionery and many snacks are used by oral bacteria to produce acid but at varying rates. Therefore, it becomes important to consider all fermentable sugars when making food choices related to improving oral health.
Since protein in diet is not used by oral bacteria, and help to protect against the development of dental decay, a practical application would be to combine dietary foods with sweet or starchy foods or protein rich foods with cooked or processed starches. Daily food choices according to the Food Guide Pyramid, especially from the dairy and meat groups, help to promote anticariogenic activity.
Water, an essential nutrient, is often overlooked in discussions relating to diet and dental decay. Water plays a significant part in the composition of saliva and tissues of the body. In fact the adequate intake of water, especially at the time when fermentable sugars are consumed, can help to enhance oral clearance.
Dietary guidelines to promote good dental health should therefore include the following:
- eat a balanced diet as depicted in the Food Pyramid above.
- combine foods to promote saliva production and oral clearance; for example- combine sweet or starchy foods with protein rich foods.
- chewing sugarless gum after meals and snacks is helpful
- it is preferable to consume sweet and acidic beverages with meals and snacks that contain other foods.
- drink lots of water which has zero calories.
Remember that a healthy diet is beneficial for both dental and overall health.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended and may not be treated as, a substitute for professional medical/dental advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or dental professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical/dental condition. Never disregard professional medical/dental advice or delay in seeking it because of a purely informational publication.
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