What You Eat Last May Determine Your Risk for Tooth Decay

cereal1Diet plays an important role in oral health. But while studies of food intake and cavities have focused mainly on the sugar, or carbohydrate, content, fewer studies have looked at how combinations of food, and the order in which they are eaten, may help fight cavities.

Some of the science suggests that the last food item consumed exerts the greatest influence on subsequent plaque pH. When we consume carbohydrates, the refined sugar and starch causes dental plaque on the surface of our teeth to produce acids that can damage tooth enamel and lead to cavities. (A pH below 7 is acidic; a pH greater than 7 is basic. Pure water has a pH close to 7.)

In one study, researchers gave study participants dry Froot Loops to eat. The pH in plaque dropped rapidly after consuming cereal alone, and remained acidic at pH 5.83 at 30 minutes.

But when participants were given a glass of milk to drink after eating the dry cereal, their pH rose, from 5.75 to 6.48 at 30 minutes. Milk, with a pH ranging from 6.4 to 6.7, is considered to be a functional food that fights cavities because it promotes tooth remineralization and inhibits the growth of plaque.

At the same time, researchers found that mixing cereal with milk caused the cereal to become syrupy, which lowered plaque pH to levels similar to that obtained after rinsing with a 10 percent sugar solution.

Similarly, research has shown that eating cheese after a sugary meal can reduce acid production.

It’s possible that we can one day modify our diets with food sequencing to prevent the cavity-causing effects of sugary foods and maintain our oral health.

If you are looking for a dentist in the Troy and Birmingham area who utilizes the latest dental techniques and technology, be sure to check out Dr. Douglas Angell. Angell’s Dentistry is committed to providing each of our patients with a beautiful, healthy smile and unmatched dental care. Give our office a call at (248) 362-4330 and be sure to visit our website at: www.angellsdentistry.com.

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