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How Diet Affects Cavities

May 30, 2014

What you eat has a direct effect on how cavities develop on your teeth. What you eat causes cavities - from the acid that weakens and destroys teeth enamel to the nutrition that is needed bacteria to cause further damage and form cavities - everything is directly dependent on your diet. Of course, proper dental hygiene plays a big role too but recent studies have shown how diet affects cavities more than how often you are brushing your teeth or not.

How Diet Affects Cavities

Here are some examples how diet affects cavities and how what you eat can cause (or prevent) cavity formation.

  1. The nutrition needed by bacteria that cause cavities comes from your diet. There are foods that are more cavity-forming than others (more acidic on teeth than others).
  2. The longer the food or drink stays in the mouth clinging to the teeth, the more likely it can come in contact with plaque bacteria that produce the acid that causes cavities.
  3. If you often snack or drink sodas, the acid has more time to attack your teeth.

And you might be surprised that both under and overeating can cause cavities!

Your gums, teeth, chewing (mastication) muscles are all living tissues, and they have the same nutritional requirements as any other living tissue in the body. When they aren't fed with nutritious food, oral health may be compromised and nutrient-deficiency diseases, such as scurvy can develop. In contrast, when food is freely available, as in many first world countries, oral health may be compromised by continuous intake of (unhealthy) food which can result to diabetes and obesity.

It is therefore correct to conclude that one's diet not only affects cavities, but also is an important factor in the development of periodontal disease (gum disease).

Establishing Healthy Eating Habits

Learning how diet affects your oral health — long-term and short-term — is the first step towards establishing healthy eating habits.

What To Eat

To help people understand these guidelines, the USDA has replaced the old Food Guide Pyramid with a new, interactive tool called MyPyramid. The new tool is actually many different pyramids customized for a person depending on age, gender and physical activity.

Your diet, like the pyramid, should have a strong base of grains; at least 2½ cups of vegetables a day; at least 2 cups of fruits a day; at least 3 cups of calcium-containing milk, yogurt and cheese; and proteins such as meats, beans, eggs and nuts. Eat fats and sweets sparingly.

How Often to Eat If you want to prevent cavities, how often you eat can be just as important as what you eat. That's because food affects your teeth and mouth long after you swallow. Studies have shown that those who eat sweets as snacks between meals have higher incidences of decay than those who eat the same amount of sweets with their meals.

Preventive Dental Care is Very Important

Nutritional counseling is becoming an increasingly important part in preventive dental care. Adequate nutrition, or the lack of it, plays a big part in the prevention and occurrence of disease. And it all starts in our mouths! This is why during dental checkups, Dr. Reese may often ask about your eating habits.. You should visit your dentist twice a year to have your teeth cleaned as there are teeth that are more prone to cavities even if you brush your teeth regularly and watch what you eat.

Indianapolis Dentistry is located just north of Greenwood, Indiana, 5 minutes south of I-465 on US 31 between I-65 and Highway 37. To make an appointment or to call for directions, please call 317-882-0228.