Sweet Tooth

When one thinks of nutrition they think of the connection between food and their body. But one major aspect that many seem to over look is the connection between food and oral health. Digestion begins in the mouth with the physical mastication of food. As the food particles continue to decrease in size, the production of saliva transitions the digestive process in the enzymatic phase. An enzyme found in human saliva called amylase, breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars like glucose, fructose and/or lactose. Foods that are often deemed “unhealthy” like candies, cookies, cakes and soda contain these simple sugars. However many “healthy” foods like breads, milk, fruit juices and bananas also contain carbohydrates. Simple sugars found in these foods are what the bacteria in your mouth use to produce acids. These acids are what leads to demineralization or the breakdown of teeth that can lead to tooth decay and cavities. A recent study concluded that children, specifically pre-school aged children, increase their risk for developing dental cavities as their consumption of added sugars increased. This is due to the prevalence of sugar available for bacteria to feed on to produce a more acidic environment in the mouth. The higher the intake of sugar in one’s diet and the longer the sugars stay on the teeth, the higher the risks of developing tooth decay and cavities. This is why it is important that in addition to eating a low-sugar diet, after consuming foods that are high in carbohydrates and simple sugar to drink/rinse with water or brush your teeth. Teeth are vital to the breakdown of our foods to help absorb nutrients that are essential to our overall health, but it is the foods that we consume that are essential for our overall oral health.