Tufts: Scientists have demystified the common dental myths and outline how diet and nutrition affects oral health in children, teenagers, expectant mothers, adults and elders.
Following are the myths generally associated with dental care, which we tend to overlook:
1. The consequences of poor oral health are restricted to the mouth
Expectant mothers may not know that what they eat affects the tooth development of the fetus. Poor nutrition during pregnancy may make the unborn child more likely to have tooth decay later in life.
"Between the ages of 14 weeks to four months, deficiencies in calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, protein and calories could result in oral defects," said Carole Palmer, of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM).
Some data also suggest that lack of adequate vitamin B6 or B12 could be a risk factor for cleft lip and cleft palate formation.
"If a child’s mouth hurts due to tooth decay, he/she is less likely to be able to concentrate at school and is more likely to be eating foods that are easier to chew but that are less nutritious," said Palmer.
2. More sugar means more tooth decay.
It isn’t the amount of sugar you eat; it is the amount of time that the sugar has contact with the teeth.
"Foods such as slowly-dissolving candies and soda are in the mouth for longer periods of time. This increases the amount of time teeth are exposed to the acids formed by oral bacteria from the sugars," said Palmer.
3. Losing baby teeth to tooth decay is okay
Palmer has noted that tooth decay in baby teeth can result in damage to the developing crowns of the permanent teeth developing below them. If baby teeth are lost prematurely, the permanent teeth may erupt mal-positioned and require orthodontics later on.
4. Osteoporosis only affects the spine and hips
Osteoporosis may also lead to tooth loss. Teeth are held in the jaw by the face bone, which can also be affected by osteoporosis. "So, the jaw can also suffer the consequences of a diet lacking essential nutrients such as calcium and vitamins D and K," said Palmer.
5. Dentures improve a person’s diet
If dentures don’t fit well, older adults are apt to eat foods that are easy to chew and low in nutritional quality, such as cakes or pastries. "First, denture wearers should make sure that dentures are fitted properly. In the meantime, if they are having difficulty chewing or have mouth discomfort, they can still eat nutritious foods by having cooked vegetables instead of raw, canned fruits instead of raw, and ground beef instead of steak. Also, they should drink plenty of fluids or chew sugar-free gum to prevent dry mouth," said Palmer.
6. Dental decay is only a young person’s problem
In adults and elders, receding gums can result in root decay (decay along the roots of teeth). Commonly used drugs such as antidepressants, diuretics, antihistamines and sedatives increase the risk of tooth decay by reducing saliva production.
The findings were published in Nutrition Today .