It is a commonly held belief that bad food habits and bad genes cause tooth decay. This is mostly true and is backed by many clinical studies. Cutting down on foods containing sugar can reduce the chances of tooth decay but it is not the only factor that determines how prone you are to dental problems. Following proper oral hygiene and making certain changes to your lifestyle can make a lot of difference maintaining proper oral health. It can also help you remineralize teeth naturally.
Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, cavities, or caries, is a breakdown of teeth due to activities of bacteria. The cause of caries is bacterial breakdown of the hard tissues of the teeth. Dental cavities, once formed can be difficult to reverse. Filling the cavities, which forms the treatment is a good solution but is still prone to many problems. Prevention is better than cure and as with every other health condition, it is better to prevent dental caries in the first place. Proper oral hygiene and certain changes to your lifestyle can prevent dental problems.
Dietary habits have a lot to do with oral health. Certain cultures have perfect teeth even though they do not have access to dental facilities or modern toothpaste. On the other hand, certain other cultures have high rates of tooth decay. Dentists conclude that there are three main dietary factors affecting dental health. These are:
- Minerals (calcium and phosphorus)
- Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K)
- Phytic acid
Of course, the amount of sugar consumed also plays an important role. Bacteria in the mouth convert sugars into acids through fermentation. These acids cause demineralization. If demineralization continues over time, enough mineral content may be lost so that the soft organic material left behind disintegrates leading to cavities. Reducing sugar intake can significantly reduce the chances of developing cavities.
Phytic Acid: Not Tooth Friendly
Phytic acid, or phytate, is a chemical found in many plant tissues. It is present in higher quantities in grains and other seats. Wheat, nuts, bran, soybeans and oatmeal are rich in phytic acid. Taking foods rich phytic acid is not good for the body because it decreases the body’s ability to calcium, phosphorous and other minerals such as magnesium zinc and iron. Consuming diets rich in phytic acid may result in the loss of calcium and therefore lead to the weakening of the bones and teeth. Modern agricultural practices and use of fertilizers containing high quantities of phosphorous have resulted in high quantities of phytic acid in foods we consume.
Reduce phytate intake
Studies indicate that people who take large amounts of phytic acid have higher rates of tooth decay. When the diet contains more amounts of phytic acid, it causes the body to undergo mineral starvation. The body then tries to utilize minerals as little as possible. Phytate rich diets are particularly bad for children. During growing phase, inadequate absorption of calcium and phosphorus can result in improper bone growth, rickets, jaw defects and tooth decay. Anemia and mental retardation can also result due to iron deficiency.
Calcium and vitamin D deficiency can result in malformation of the bones. It can also result in malformation of the jaw bone which can, in turn, create spacing problems for the teeth. Unfortunately, diets in developed countries are high in grains, sugars, and vegetable oils – all of which are not exactly optimal for healthy bones and prevention of dental problems.
There is good news though – the body can heal teeth and bones by a process known as remineralization. The teeth contain specialized cells known as odontoblasts whose work is to regenerate dentin which is the layer located beneath the enamel. The enamel then remineralizes from outside. When a diet low in phytic acid but rich in fat-soluble vitamins, calcium, and phosphorus is taken, this process takes place more efficiently. This has been proven by clinical studies.
How can you reverse tooth decay and remineralize teeth?
You can reduce the risk of tooth decay by following proper oral hygiene and taking a healthy diet. It should be noted that it is not possible to completely eliminate phytic as it from your diet. Foods containing phytic acid also contain other beneficial nutrients. Avoiding these foods entirely can have other health consequences. However, following certain practices such as soaking and fermenting can reduce the amount of phytic acid present in the foods and minimize its harmful effects. For example, it is a good practice to soak nuts in salt water, rinse them thoroughly and then dehydrate in the oven before consuming. Sprouting and fermenting nuts can also reduce the amount of phytic acid.
It is not possible to entirely eliminate phytic acid from your diet. However, you can take certain measures to reduce the amount and minimize harm. Increasing the amount of meat, eggs, and vegetables in the diet can also be beneficial. Mineral supplements can also help improve oral health.