Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Nutrition and oral hygiene.

We know what foods put you at high risk for dental caries: sports drinks, sugar-sweetened-beverages, coffee, tea, and fruit juices. But what should you eat to keep your teeth and mouth in tip-top shape?

just a party picnic dish

Let’s first talk about fruits. Fruits contain fructose which can feed the bacteria on your mouth- fructose is sugar, after all. This study by Arora and Evans looking at school-aged children in New Zealand found that higher consumption of fruits is associated with higher rates of dental caries. However it’s difficult to make judgments on diets based on their effect on teeth alone. Fruits contain such great micronutrients and antioxidants for your entire body.

So the current agreement is not to limit your consumption of these wholesome citrus fruits- American Dental Association recommends U.S. Government’s MyPlate as an ideal eating guideline with quarter of supper plates filled with fruits. Plus, the ADA focuses on reducing unhealthy foods from patients’ diets with “limits on calories, sodium, and unhealthy fats” and replacing them with healthier snacks such as dairy and nuts, fruits and vegetables. After all, fruits and vegetables are better for you than soft drinks and sports drinks- and they contain fiber! Just don’t brush your teeth right after consuming these acidic foods when your teeth are softened and therefore more prone to demineralization.

Current dietary recommendations focus more on preventing demineralization after consuming possibly cariogenic foods by using fluoride toothpastes and making policy changes for fluoridation of water supplies- not on reducing foods solely based on their cariogenic factor.

Daegu homemade meals

I know that a diet of wholesome, natural foods (made with love) can make you feel better. It’s amazing how much food can affect your daily energy and positivity levels. It’s also amazing how people respond differently to various diets- I for one, cannot live on fruits alone. I crash HARD with all that fructose.

I was inspired by this video by Dr. Michael Gregor of NutritionFacts.org to look into this topic. I was curious to see if there was a diet out there best for healthy mouths… this goes to show that we need to think about the patients not as mouths with teeth but as a holistic human being with intricate co-functioning systems.