Oral Health and Eating Habits
When we talk about preventing cavities with the help of foods, we usually talk about what to eat. The matter of fact is that when to eat is just as important as what to eat. For example, eating cookies as a separate snack can be harmful for teeth and mouth but it isn’t much dangerous when you eat them with the meal. However, you have to keep in mind that bad nutrition can have its overall impact on the health of teeth and gums. Therefore, it is pretty much important to understand role of nutrition in oral and dental health.
Immediate effects of foods on oral health
In the very moment you eat your foods, the changes start happening in your mouth. Bacteria feed on the food remnants in your mouth and produce acids which contribute in the development of tooth decay and cavities.
When carbohydrates break down in the mouth, the resultant products are simple sugars which include glucose, fructose, maltose and lactose. The types of carbohydrates which break down in the mouth are fermentable carbohydrates. Other types are the ones which break down in the digestive tract.
There are certain types of bacteria which feed on the sugar in the mouth. In response to this consumption, they produce acids which dissolve minerals in the teeth. This process is also referred to as demineralization of tooth enamel. However, teeth regain the minerals as well. This process is called re-mineralization. It is basically done with the help of saliva which contains minerals. And, there are some foods that contain fluoride. Intake of such foods helps the teeth regain their strength of enamel.
Having that said, it is worth mentioning that tooth decay is the process of loss of minerals which remains to be faster as compared to the process of re-mineralization. When the food particles stay closer to the teeth for longer period of time, oral bacteria keep feeding on them. Hence, they consistently produce acids which demineralize the teeth. It should also be mentioned here that consumption of unhealthy foods specifically makes things worse for the dental and oral health. Unhealthy foods are usually rich in sugars and carbohydrates which the bacteria love to feed on.
Similarly, there are some foods which can actually help in maintaining oral and dental health. Such foods are the ones which help in the production of saliva. Dairy products, especially cheese, and certain fruits help in saliva stimulation.
Long term effects
While this fight between acids and saliva goes on, there are some long term effects which depend upon the general outcome of this fight over a longer period of time. If bacteria, loss of saliva and acid production consistently prevail in your oral cavity, you might have to suffer some long-term disadvantages such as periodontal disease, tooth loss, jawbone deterioration, and certain other overall health conditions.
While it is good to work on your nutrition in order to keep your oral cavity healthy, you need to make sure that you visit your dentist biannually. It would help in keeping everything in check officially.