A diet rich in essential nutrients invigorates yourgums and teeth. This is the reason why diet counseling is an important aspect for dental caries prevention and for ensuring a pearly white smile. Dr. Kanchan Sawlani, Dentist and Research Trainee, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) at Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi says, "A food pyramid is a commonly used tool by dentists to help patients develop healthy eating habits". Today, we will explore each section of this pyramid.
Protective foods: Some food components are somewhat caries-inhibiting (Cariostatic) and are thus called Protective Foods. These are products rich in calcium and phosphates, for example peanuts, lectin, cocoa, paneer etc. These are, up to a certain extent, capable of buffering the acids produced by the mouth's bacteria and forming a protective barrier on the tooth enamel. Fluoride (approximately1 ppm) in drinking water and diet strengthens teeth and has an anti-cavity effect.
Breads, grains and pulses: Whole grains such as rotis, paranthas, dalia, cornflakes etc. should be preferred over refined grains like noodles, pastas, biscuits and other bakery products. Refined grains, starchy foods and sugars are fermentable carbohydrates which are the main culprits contributing to acid formation in the oral cavity.
Fruits and vegetables: Not only do these add colour and health benefits to your diet, but they provide roughage and require active chewing which leads to increased salivation that is desirable for cavity protection. Green leafy vegetables are rich in Vitamin A and proteins which keep your teeth and bones in good shape.
Milk and milk products: These are the most important source of calcium in your diet. One should drink a minimum of 250-500 ml of milk daily. Low fat pasteurized milk is preferable as excessive consumption of whole milk can increase blood cholesterol levels.
Meat, fish, poultry and eggs: Meats are rich in proteins, iron, zinc and Vitamin B12. The WHO food guide pyramid suggests that adults should eat 2-3 servings of meat products each day (each serving approximately 110 grams). If not meat, vegetarians can opt for meat alternative like tofu, beans, lentils, nuts and other high protein vegetables.
Fats, oils and sweets: Choose PUFA (Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids) rich oils like safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean, wheat germ oil etc. over saturated fats like ghee and butter. Frequent consumption of sweets, chocolates, caramels and cream biscuits should be avoided as these stick to the surface of your teeth and cause greater decay.