How are Tooth Cavities Caused?
Eating right can help prevent the two most common dental problems that people typically struggle with: Cavities and gum disease. Tooth decay (that eventually leads to cavities) is caused by accumulation of bacteria in the mouth. This bacteria comes from the food you eat and acts on the sugars contained in food (this is why sugary foods are not good for teeth).
The acid produced slowly eats away at your tooth enamel and then the internal part of the tooth called the dentine. Finally, over a time, the tooth gets ‘eaten away’ by acid and chips off, leaving behind a hole or cavity. Cavities are often hotbeds for bacterial infection and can lead to severe tooth ache.
Moreover, bacteria from the mouth may enter your body through the saliva or the bloodstream leading to other health problems.
What is the Relationship between Food and Dental Health?
A balanced diet gives the body the right amount of nutrients. Nutrients help the body revitalize its immune system and this in turn boosts resistance to dental diseases.
Calcium helps build teeth and the jaw. A person who eats a diet poor in calcium is more likely to develop dental problems. To help the body absorb the calcium, the diet should contain adequate amounts of vitamin D. Lack of vitamin D in the diet can lead to dry mouth, burning sensations and a bitter taste in the mouth.
Iron is also necessary for nourishment of blood vessels in the mouth. Deficiency in iron may lead to ulcerated sores and inflammation of the tongue. Vitamin C also helps in absorption of iron.
Adequate amounts of Vitamin B2, B12 (riboflavin)and B3 (niacin) can prevent bad breath and ulcers. So your diet should ideally contain all these nutrients. eating the right foods can stave off dental problems and reverse tooth decay.
Which Foods are Good for Dental Health?
The following foods are good for improving dental health:
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese, oysters, beans – These contain calcium and phosphates that help re-mineralize teeth and also strengthen gums
- Nuts, bran, red meat, liver – These foods contain high levels of iron
- Pasta, spinach, chicken, fish, almonds – These are concentrated sources of vitamin B2, B12 and B3
- Pears, sweet potatoes, red peppers, Kiwi fruit and oranges are great sources of vitamin C
- Celery stimulates the salivary glands leading to production of saliva. Saliva dilutes concentration of bacteria. Celery also acts as a natural floss and cleans between teeth
- Raisins are excellent sources of oleanolic acid that discourages the growth of oral bacteria
- Onions have a strong antibacterial action due to the sulphurous compounds they produce. They are best when eaten fresh and raw.
Which Foods are bad for Dental Health?
It’s advisable to curb intake of the following foods:
Carbonated Soft Drinks: Soft drinks, canned iced teas and diet colas all contain flavor enhancers. Although diet sodas contain much less sugar than their conventional counterparts, they contain tooth-enamel eroding acids, namely phosphoric acid and citric acid.
Alcohol: Feeling dry-mouthed after last night’s party? That’s the alcohol working to dry up salivary secretions. Ensure that your mouth is protected from excessive dryness by using rehydrating rinses or simply by drinking a lot of water.
Candy bars, lollipops and toffee bars: Any sweet that involves prolonged sucking and chewing is bad for teeth. This is not just related to the sugar content (although that’s bad too). The longer the sugar stays in the mouth, the worse it is for your teeth – the bacteria get to metabolize the sugars for a longer time.
To put it in a nutshell, take care to avoid acidic and sweet foods. If you want to drink orange or grape juice, suck it through a straw and swallow it straight down the throat. Swishing it around the mouth is more likely to give your teeth an unwanted acid bath.
As a precaution, rinse your mouth with clean water after drinking or eating sugary or acidic foods. This helps get rid of the acid deposit on the teeth and prevents tooth decay.