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Diet and Dental Diseases


Diet and Dental Diseases

Health and Nutrition

dental diseases:

Smile increases our face value and a radiant smile has everything to do with a healthy set of sparkling teeth. Diet has an important role to play in the formation and maintenance of teeth in a healthy condition.

What are dental diseases?

Dental caries, dental diseases or tooth decay is one of the most common disorders that occur. It usually occurs in children and young adults but can affect any person. It is a condition in which the hard portion of the tooth (enamel, dentine, and cement) are damaged by the bacteria in the mouth, causing dental diseases.

Diet plays an important role in the onset of dental diseases. A dynamic relation exists between sugars and oral health. Diet affects the integrity of the teeth; quantity, pH, and composition of the saliva; and plaque pH.

Some of the factors that cause dental diseases

  1. Food debris
  2. Sugar
  3. Bacteria
  4. Saliva

How do these factors cause dental diseases?

Food debris: Food residue left between teeth serves as breeding ground for bacteria.

Sugar: Sugar candy, confectionary and sweets kept in the mouth for sometime produce lactic acid rapidly and can cause dental diseases. Dietary sugars are a substrate for cariogenic oral bacteria to flourish and to generate enamel-demineralizing acids (2). Sugar in solution form swallowed does not cause dental diseases.

Bacteria: Bacteria cause dental diseases by fermenting sugars such as glucose, fructose and sucrose which produces lactic acid.  Mostly dental diseases occur due to demineralisation of the hard tissues of the teeth by organic acids released by bacteria in dental plaque through the anaerobic metabolism of sugars came from the diet.

Saliva: The flow of saliva is very important in keeping the surface of the teeth clean and free from dental diseases. Saliva is one of the mouth’s natural defences against dental diseases. It promotes remineralisation, as it is capable of depositing mineral in porous areas where demineralisation of enamel or dentine has taken place. In cases where salivary glands are removed by surgery because of various reasons severe dental diseases may occur.

What is dental plaque?

Bacteria, acid, food residue and saliva in the mouth form a sticky substance called plaque that adheres to the teeth. Plaque begins to build up on teeth within 20 minutes after eating. If plaque is not removed thoroughly and regularly, tooth decay and dental diseases will occur. Acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the tooth and create holes in the tooth which are also called cavities.

If left in contact with the tooth, these acids may cause demineralization, which is the dissolution of its mineral content. The process is dynamic but remineralization can also occur if the acid is neutralized by saliva or mouthwash. Untreated tooth decay also destroys the internal structures of the tooth and ultimately causes the loss of the tooth.

Prevention of dental caries

  1. Children’s diet should provide the recommended allowance of vitamins A, C and D and calcium salts. These nutrients will ensure the development of strong teeth.
  2. Reduce snacking because the amount of time the teeth are exposed to acid will reduce and this helps prevent dental diseases
  3. Fluoridation of drinking water to raise fluoride content to 1.0 ppm brings about a decrease in the incidence of caries. Regular dental examination also aids in prevention of dental diseases
  4. Oral hygiene is extremely important brushing twice a day is a necessity to prevent caries.

Importance of balanced diet and fluoride for healthy teeth

The susceptibility to develop dental diseases in the presence of carbohydrates may be influenced by genetics also. Dental caries is a warning signal that we are consuming an unhealthy diet which predicts the future onset of other dental diseases.

Measures for reducing caries risk

  1. From a nutrition perspective, are the consumption of a balanced diet
  2. From a dental perspective are the use of topical fluorides and consumption of fluoridated water and oral hygiene.

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