Dishing up high-fat ice cream to keep the weight off? No way.
Mixing a cocktail before a long drive home? No way.
Popping handfuls of a sweet, sticky snack to protect your teeth from cavities? Go for it!
New research counters a longstanding public perception that raisins promote cavities. In fact, it suggests the contrary.
“Phytochemicals in raisins may benefit oral health by fighting bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease,” says Dr. Christine D. Wu, lead author of a study at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry.
Phytochemicals are antioxidants found in plants. One of the five phytochemicals the study identified in raisins is oleanolic acid. In the study, oleanolic acid inhibited the growth of two species of oral bacteria: Streptococcus mutans, which causes cavities, and Porphyromonas gingivalis, which causes periodontal disease.
“Foods that are sticky do not necessarily cause tooth decay,” says Dr. Wu. “It is mainly the added sugar – the sucrose – that contributes to the problem. Moreover, raisins contain mainly fructose and glucose, not sucrose, the main culprit in oral disease.”
Proper nutrition means eating a well-balanced diet so that your body can get the nutrients needed for good health and wellness. If your diet is low in the nutrients your body needs, your mouth may have a more difficult time resisting infection.
Why Does NUTRITION Affect Oral Health?
A poor diet can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Foods high in carbohydrates, sugars and starches greatly contribute to the production of plaque acids that attack the tooth enamel. Eventually these acids can cause tooth enamel to break down, forming a cavity.
Foods that contain sugars of any kind can contribute to tooth decay. Almost all foods, including milk and vegetables, contain some type of sugar; however; these foods are a necessary part of a healthy diet, because many of them also contain important nutrients. To help control the amount of sugar you consume, read food labels and choose foods and beverages that are low in added sugars.
For more information about diet and oral health, visit the American Dental Association Web site at “www.ada.org/public/topics/diet.asp”.