Tooth Decay & Diet

Smile dentists have long recognised the link between good oral health and sound nutrition. For years, the Australian Dental Association has recommended that children and adults limit eating and drinking between meals and when they must snack give preference to nutritious foods.

Think about the human body as a complex machine that needs daily attention if it is to run well. Without exercise and a balanced diet, it doesn't get the fuel it needs to perform efficiently or effectively. And it may be less able to ward off disease or infection. The foods we choose as fuel generally affect our overall health including our teeth and gums.

Sugar and Tooth Decay

Eating patterns and food choices among children and teens are important factors that affect how quickly youngsters may develop tooth decay. The reason is a sticky film of bacteria, called 'plaque', that constantly forms on the teeth and gums. Each and every time bacteria come in contact with sugar or starch in the mouth, acid is produced which attacks the teeth for 20 minutes or more. This eventually can result in tooth decay.

Some dietary guidelines encourage consumers to limit intake of beverages and foods high in added sugars that may crowds out other healthy foods from their daily diet. It has been identified that soft drinks are a major source of added sugar.

Did you know that some non-diet soft drinks contain as many as 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving? Although there are a few studies reported in scientific literature that specifically evaluate the role of soft drinks in the development of tooth decay increased sugar in the diet increases the risk of decay. There is a positive association between consumption especially heavy consumption of sugar containing soft drinks and risk of developing tooth decay according to published details.

Most soft drinks contain phosphoric acid and citric acid. Prolonged exposure to acids can do permanent damage to teeth by producing a condition called 'erosion', or the loss of hard tissues from the tooth surface. It is widely accepted that acid in food and beverages plays a major role in the development of enamel erosion. Diet soft drinks rely on non-nutritive sweeteners instead of sugar. They also are acidic and may increase the risk of experiencing enamel erosion , although the research on the role of soft drinks and tooth erosion is preliminary.

Diet and Plaque

There are things you can do to beat plaque. Limit eating and drinking between meals and, when snacking, give preference to nutritious foods. Be mindful of the effects of frequent consumption of sugary beverages and non-nutritious snack foods. Brush twice a day, floss or use an interdental cleaner once a day and have regular dental check ups.

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