Nutrition Counseling in Wilmington, DE
Dr. Gladnick is a firm believer in the power of good nutrition and its effects on your dental health. He offers nutrition counseling as part of the overall preventative care provided by his practice. For example, some will be surprised to know that candy and sodas are not necessarily the primary offenders!
According to the American Dietetic Association, cavity production begins when the bacteria in your mouth combine with the carbohydrates that you ingest to make acids that attack your enamel. The carbohydrates include both sugars and starches. This means that in addition to candy and sodas, eating crackers, cakes, pasta, fruit, bread, and, yes, even milk can result in the start of cavity production when the naturally occurring sugars in these foods combine with the bacteria in your mouth.
Nutrition and the Oral Health Link
Bacteria found in the dental plaque may be invisible to you, but they cover your teeth in a thin film, increasing along the gum line. Once they combine with the carbohydrates that you ingest, they form an acid that literally bathes your teeth for a good twenty minutes after you have ingested the food! The potential for cavity formation is increased the longer the carbohydrate remains in your mouth. When you eat a cracker, for example, the remnants tend to hide in the crevices of your teeth, thus increasing the time of the acid formation. This is also true of sticky candy, raisins, or anything that has a tendency to adhere to your teeth. The longer the food stays in your mouth, the greater its potential to contribute to cavity formation. Likewise, sucking on hard candy for periods of time, or putting a baby to bed with a bottle, will increase your chances of ending up with a mouth full of cavities!
So should you stop eating? Of course not! But the answer is to eat sensibly. Make sure that sugary foods and those high in carbohydrates are rinsed completely from your mouth after you are finished eating them. Brushing right after eating meals or snacking is optimal, but if that is not convenient, at least try to swish water around your mouth to get rid of the remnants. Otherwise, they will continue to combine with the bacteria already present in your mouth, form acids that will break down your enamel, and potentially cause cavities.
What You Should Know About Oral Cancer
While most people are well aware of the links between oral cancer and smoking and alcohol, other factors can also increase your chances of susceptibility to the disease. Some food-borne carcinogens can actually cause damage to the DNA at the cellular level. Preserved foods, particularly deli meats, ham, and bacon, contain nitrates, which convert to nitrosamines when they are ingested. Nitrosamines are also found in beer! In addition, the nitrite pickling salt is sometimes used as a preservative in some fish and fish by-products and in some cheeses.
How can you decrease your chances of developing oral cancer? First, if you currently smoke, stop! You should also reduce your intake of alcohol. You can help build up your defenses by eating antioxidant-rich foods, including carotenoids (found in red- and orange-colored fruits and vegetables), lycopene (found mostly in tomatoes), and other phytonutrients (derived from plant-based foods that contain vitamin C and E). These will go a long way in helping to prevent DNA damage. Eating more plant-based foods, in general, will contribute to your oral health.
Lastly, a strain of the human papillomavirus (HPV 16), which is sexually transmitted, can also contribute to oral cancer.
None of these suggestions are meant to limit your enjoyment of life, but being well informed could save your life!