Wellness

These foods protect your teeth from cavities

Dental caries is a disease characterized by the loss of minerals in the enamel of the teeth, this shell essential to dental health. In the most painful cases, it spreads into the dentin and the dental pulp ending up under the tooth enamel. It occurs when bacteria naturally present in the mouth come into contact with foods that contain sugar or modified starch. In contact with sugar, the bacteria found in the whitish substance on the surface of the teeth, will produce an abrasive acid which weakens the enamel of the teeth, which can lead to the formation of cavities. That’s why, as a kid, we all heard “Don’t eat candy, it’s bad for your teeth.” But is it so simple? Here’s how to protect your child, from pregnancy, from the number 1 enemy of their teeth: tooth decay.

Prevention begins during pregnancy

The prevention of dental caries begins from the second month of intrauterine life! This is when the mouth, gums and teeth of the fetus develop. The mother’s diet must then provide the fetus with all the nutrients it needs to develop healthy teeth: proteins, calcium, vitamin C and vitamin D. Teeth that are poorly calcified at the time of their appearance are particularly vulnerable to cavities. From birth until around 6 months, breast milk provides babies with all the nutrients needed to form beautiful teeth, with the exception of vitamin D, which is usually given in the form of drops. The sucking movements required to extract milk from the breast also allow the jaws to develop optimally and thus ensure sufficient space for each tooth, which prevents crowding. Bottle-feeding does not provide these benefits.

Balanced and diversified diet in adolescence

Teeth are particularly vulnerable to decay for the first two to three years after they appear. It is therefore important to properly prepare children’s teeth to face this situation by providing toddlers with a diet low in sugars and modified starch, and rich in calcium, protein, vitamin D and vitamin C (fruits ), and this, from birth! During childhood and adolescence, a balanced and diversified diet plays a decisive role in the formation of permanent teeth, until the appearance of the last molar, around the age of 17.

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Some measures to take throughout life against cavities

If a healthy diet can contribute to conferring on the teeth a certain resistance, the direct contact, with the teeth, of foods rich in sugars and modified starch remains a threat throughout life. Sugar exists in two forms: that which is added to foods, such as white sugar, brown sugar, honey and that which is found naturally in fruits and certain cereals.

On the labels of food products, sugar is often referred to by most words ending in ose: lactose, maltose, fructose, dextrose, glucose, sucrose, etc. Only sucralose is an exception to the rule: it is actually a synthetic sweetener.

The starch used in industrial products is very often reduced to a very fine grind and also very often subjected to cooking processes at very high temperatures. These two processes have harmful effects for the teeth:

– Grinding starch to a fine grind makes it more likely to be broken down into sugar in the mouth (by salivary amylase)

– Cooking at high temperature causes a change in the texture of the starch which, in contact with saliva, produces a mixture which tends to adhere to the teeth.

Note that products rich in starch are also very often added sugar, which promotes a caramelization reaction during cooking. This caramelization adds to the sticky texture of the food and to the fact that food residues will remain longer available to bacteria present in the mouth. To this end, several studies have shown that the addition of sugar to starch makes the mixture more cariogenic than sucrose alone.

Sipping, the worst habit

The longer the period of contact of sugar with the teeth (sticky or sipped foods), the higher the risk. Non-acidic, your saliva usually manages to neutralize the acidity of the mouth following the ingestion of a sugary food. But if you sip a juice or take a sugary food several times during the day, then the bacteria multiply and produce more and more acid, so that at some point the saliva does not arrive longer to contain acidity and decay sets in.

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Nuts and seeds foods that do not benefit cavities

Due to their protein and fat content, nuts and seeds are not cariogenic, although they tend to get stuck between the teeth. In addition, their richness in dietary fiber stimulates the production of saliva, which is another protective element for the enamel. They also contain varying amounts of calcium and phosphorus, minerals essential for healthy teeth. Consumed alone or with fresh fruit, they are excellent snacks. Also, eaten after a sweet food, they can neutralize the acid produced.

However, if they are covered in sugars and are sticky premiums, they turn into more or less cariogenic foods. Made in this way, they contain the ideal fuel for bacteria in dental plaque. To make the most of their protective effect, it is therefore recommended to opt for the natural versions. Dried fruits and fruit jellies are very concentrated in sugar (60 to 70% sugar) and stick to the teeth: this is the food of choice for the bacteria naturally present in the mouth and responsible for dental caries.

When hiking or biking, prefer mixtures of dried fruits and nuts, taking care to finish with nuts. Your teeth will thank you…

Cavity-fighting fruits and vegetables

Although not high, the sugar concentration of fresh fruits varying from 8 to 12% approximately is sufficient for the bacteria to produce acid. In addition, since fruits are naturally acidic, they could, if eaten in large quantities (more than 10 per day), lead to erosion and decay. However, the chewing they require stimulates salivation and neutralizes the acidity present. Consumed in normal quantities, fruits thus represent excellent snacks which should not be deprived, which are much less harmful to the teeth than their juices or very lemony waters. Also, to limit your intake of cariogenic sugary foods, opt for canned fruits in their own juice and fruit compotes made with 100% fruit with no added sugar.

Some recommendations with fruits and vegetables

To reap the many health benefits associated with dietary fiber, save the skins of fruits and vegetables. As a bonus, the presence of fibers promotes vigorous chewing and therefore an increase in salivary flow.

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Prefer fruit to fruit juice, and water or milk to other drinks.

Consume these beverages in moderation and with meals to reduce their cariogenic potential. A maximum consumption of 125 ml (1/2 cup) per day is recommended.

Drink them with a straw, this will avoid direct contact of the juice with the teeth.

After consuming such acidic or sugary drinks, rinse your mouth with water or chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production and thereby reduce acidity in the mouth.

Avoid brushing your teeth immediately before drinking such beverages to allow the saliva to act, which protects your teeth.

Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after drinking such beverages to prevent the brushing of your enamel, which has been softened by these beverages.

The important points to favor a good protective diet of the teeth

Here are some questions to ask yourself to easily spot foods and drinks that promote tooth decay:

Does the food contain carbohydrates?

If the food contains mainly lipids and proteins, it is not cariogenic because the bacteria do not feed on it. This is why meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds are not cariogenic, as are fats (oil, butter, margarine).

If, on the other hand, the food contains fermentable carbohydrates, which are carbohydrates made up of short chains of sugar molecules (such as fructose or table sugar), which make them easy to break down by bacteria in dental plaque, your investigation must go further.

Knowing better the causes of cavities, you now know that the more sugar there is in the environment of bacteria, the more they produce acid which can destroy tooth enamel and form cavities.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace medical advice. [HighProtein-Foods.com]

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