DIET AND TOOTH DECAY

Proper diet and plaque control will help preserve your teeth for your life. Not only is your diet important to your general health, it is also important to your dental health. If you do not eat a balanced diet, you are more likely to get tooth decay and gum disease.

How does the food you eat cause tooth decay? When you eat, food passes through your mouth. Here it meets the germs, or bacteria, that live in your mouth.Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria. Tooth decay can be thought of as a progressive bacterial infection of the enamel, then the underlying dentin and finally the pulp. Plaque forms within a 24 hour period. Sugar ( any fermentable carbohydrate) is the food the bacteria need to live and grow. These bacteria love sugars and starches found in many foods. When you don’t clean your teeth after eating,plaque bacteria use the sugar and starch to produce acids that can destroy the hard surface of the tooth, called enamel. After a while, tooth decay occurs. The more often you eat and the longer foods are in your mouth, the more damage occurs. It is this decay that ultimately destroys the tooth and supporting bone around the tooth. The disease process is progressive in nature. Initial stages of cavity formation ( enamel demineralization ) can appear with in 72 hours.

The early stages of tooth decay can be arrested with fluoride treatment and complete daily plaque removal.

The intermediate and late stages of decay need intervention to remove the damaged tooth structure and repair the damaged areas.

The easiest and best treatment is prevention. Proper diet is a major component in preventing the initial damage to the tooth but also in preventing recurrent damage to the tooth and the restored areas of the tooth. Every time a tooth is damaged and needs new reparative procedures, there is less tooth structure remaining to work with.

CHOOSE FOODS WISELY

The key to choosing foods wisely is not to avoid these foods, but to think before you eat. Not only what you eat but when you eat makes a big difference in your dental health. Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.

To get a balanced diet, eat a variety of foods.Choose foods from each of the five major food groups:
1.breads, cereals and other grain products
2.fruits
3.vegetables
4.meat, poultry and fish
5.milk, cheese and yogurt
Limit the number of snacks that you eat. Each time you eat food that contains sugars or starches, the teeth are attacked by acids for 20 minutes or more. If you do snack, choose nutritious foods, such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt, or a piece of fruit. Foods that are eaten as part of a meal cause less harm. More saliva is released during a meal, which helps wash foods from the mouth and helps lessen the effects of acids. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.Clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners. Visit your dentist regularly. Your dentist can help prevent problems from occurring and catch those that do occur while they are easy to treat.

FOODS TO AVOID:

· Soft drinks

· Diet drinks (contain phosphoric acid)

· Excessive fruit drinks

· Coffee/Tea with sugar

· Chocolates & candy (particularly those you leave in your mouth and let dissolve,

· Large amounts of dried fruit (dehydration concentrates the sugar)

· Large amounts citrus fruits (citric acid)

WHAT ARE FLUORIDES?

Dental decay is a common disease in India. One way to help prevent this disease from occurring is through the use of fluoride.

Fluoride helps harden the tooth enamel and make it more resistant to tooth decay. A small cavity can be stopped and even reversed by the remineralization process enhanced by fluoride.

Fluoride can be delivered to the teeth in 2 ways; topically (direct contact on the teeth) and systemically (enters the blood stream).

SYSTEMIC FLUORIDES

Systemic fluorides are delivered to the tooth surface via the bloodstream. Systemic fluorides can be derived from a food source, water source, or dietary supplements (tablet, lozenge, drop). Fluoridated water is an effective way to reduce the incidence of dental decay. It has been shown that fluoridated water and dietary supplements can reduce up to 60 % of tooth decay.Some water supplies already naturally contain fluoride, for others, fluoride is intentionally added to the water supply. Some communities have no fluoride in their water. Other communities are unaware of this option.

Children from birth to 14 years of age will benefit the most from systemic fluorides. This is because when fluoride is ingested, it circulates through the bloodstream and into developing teeth. The fluoride is then built into the enamel structure of the developing tooth, making the tooth more resistant to acids.

TOPICAL FLUORIDES

TOOTHPASTE – used daily by almost everyone

PROFESSIONAL APPLICATION – this is a gel that is applied for 1 to 4 minutes, usually in a tray at the end of a dental appointment. Not everyone is given a professional fluoride application, it depends on your oral health needs.

FLUORIDATED HOME MOUTHRINSES – can be purchased over-the-counter for children over 6 years of age, and adults who are susceptible to cavities.

HOME CARE FLUORIDE GELS – applied by trays or by brush, these gels are for those who are highly susceptible to cavities. These people would include;

-adults with a high incidence of root cavities
-those who experience an extremely dry mouth
-people who wear braces or orthodontic appliances
-those who have rampant or excessive cavities