What is Dental Caries (Tooth Decay)? It is an infectious disease resulting in a progressive destruction of tooth structure. Dental Caries is the result of interaction between bacteria from dental plaque, fermentable carbohydrates (sugar), and tooth tissue over a period of time and can only occur when all these factors are present. Thus, diet habit plays a very important role in the prevention or development of dental caries.
In some patients with multiple dental caries, dietary advice is included as part of the treatment plan by the dentists. Dietary advice is tailored to the needs of the individual patient. It should correspond to the nutritional recommendations for good general body health. Dietary advice has to be practical and realistic so that it is achievable by the patients. For example, it is impossible to expect the patient to cut sugar entirely. However, it is feasible for the patient to reduce the amount of sugar being consumed or restrict sugar intake to meal times only.
Some Helpful Dietary Tips To Prevent The Development Of Dental Caries:
- Avoid sugary foods or drinks in between meal times.
- Bed-time sugary snack or drinks should be avoided. This is because it is not practical to stop the children from eating sweets completely.
- Encourage the children to eat proper meal before sweets are given.
- Sugar substitutes with no calorific value could be used to replace cariogenic sugars in foods or drinks.
- Avoid sugary snacks. Snacks with low caries potential should be taken instead of snacks.
- Reduce the frequency & total amount of sugar intake.
What Are The Foods & Drinks With Low Potential For Tooth Decay (Dental Caries)?
- Sugar-free drinks
- Sugar-free confectionery
- Sugar-free chewing gum
- Pasta, Rice, Starchy staple foods
- Fibrous foods (vegetables)
- Whole fresh fruit
- Low sugar breakfast cereals
- Tea & Coffee that are unsweetened
Cheese is safe for your teeth. However, cheese contains high concentration of saturated fat, which is bad for your heart. Even though fresh fruits contain natural sugar, they are considered less cariogenic than confectionery. On the other hands, dried fruits contain high concentrations of sugar, thus, they are not considered as ‘safe’ snacks. Nuts, bread, unsweetened biscuits and raw vegetables are all considered as safe for your teeth.
Diet habit plays a very vital role in maintaining good general as well as oral health. Thus, it is very important for us to follow the nutritional recommendations as stated in the food pyramid for a healthy lifestyles.
Article written by,
Dr. Wong Kee Cheong (Tommy)
BDS (AIMST), MBA (SEGi), YCDP