SINGAPORE: Your diet - not your toothpaste, flossing or even brushing - is the real cause of tooth decay, said an Australia dentist.
Dr Steven Lin, who is author of the upcoming book The Dental Diet, wrote in his blog drstevenlin.com that it’s not sugar alone that causes cavities; it’s the lack of teeth-strengthening nutrients in the modern Western diet.
“Many mistakenly believe that they can prevent cavities and periodontal disease simply with good brushing habits and the right toothpaste - but this isn’t the most important factor,” he wrote in his blog.
According to Dr Lin, “your teeth aren’t as quick to heal naturally as soft organs are, like your skin and liver”. Hence, any tooth enamel loss is harder to stop and reverse.
To help your teeth heal and keep bad bacteria under control, Dr Lin recommended incorporating these four fat-soluble vitamins into your diet: Vitamins A, D, K2 and E.
Often linked to good eyesight, Vitamin A can also maintain salivary flow in the mouth. Saliva is essential to the health of your teeth as it contains minerals that strengthen teeth, washes away bad bacteria, and keeps the mouth in a neutral or slightly alkaline state, according to RDH Magazine.
Hence, saliva glands that can’t do their job “can contribute to pits on the surface of your enamel”, wrote Dr Lin.
Vitamin A can come from eggs, beef liver, fish and milk.
This vitamin not only keeps both the bones and teeth strong, it also activates the odontoblasts or “immune system in your teeth", wrote Dr Lin. These cells produce dentin and are “vital to tooth regeneration”.
In his blog, Dr Lin wrote that clinical trials that studied the connection between Vitamin D and tooth decay found that the vitamin can reduce dental caries.
"Many of these studies had patients take at least 800 IU of Vitamin D per day, which is more than the daily recommended allowance but less than what many physicians, including myself, recommend," he wrote. He suggested taking at least 2,000 IU of Vitamin D daily or spending 20 minutes in the sun without sunscreen - without burning.
Vitamin D is also found in mushrooms, dairy products and fatty fish like salmon.
Calcium is widely accepted as a tooth-friendly mineral. But without Vitamin K2, the calcium from supplements can end up in the wrong places, such as the arteries, wrote Dr Lin in his blog.
According to him, Vitamin K2 is akin to a traffic cop, directing calcium to the bones and teeth where it is needed. When there is a Vitamin K2 deficiency, the calcium ends up in the arteries instead, causing them to narrow and harden.
Sources of Vitamin K2 include hard and soft cheeses, eggs, butter, liver, and salami.
No matter how careful you are with your oral hygiene, your mouth houses a microbiome of good and bad bacteria. When left unchecked, bacteria that causes plaque and gum disease may proliferate. To keep a lid on things, Dr Lin recommends Vitamin E.
While this antioxidant doesn't benefit teeth directly, it reduces inflammation caused by bacteria and thus, minimises the development of gingivitis before it develops into periodontal disease.
You can get the vitamin from spinach, broccoli, and nuts.