Tooth decay and gum disease are becoming increasingly common issues in the Western world. A survey of the dental health of both adults and children in America over a period of 17 years found that while incidences of tooth loss had declined over that time, the number of cavities had increased, especially among the poorest children taking part in the study.
Tooth decay is caused when bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars and then produce acid. This acid eats away at the enamel on your teeth, eventually creating dental carries or cavities. The best way to prevent tooth decay is to brush your teeth regularly and avoid foods that are high in sugar.
Why Might Tooth Decay Be Increasing?
Dental care has improved a lot in recent history, so people get to keep their original teeth for longer. In addition, modern diets are incredibly high in sugars. The average person drinks a lot of sugary drinks and eats a lot of simple carbohydrates. Even someone who tries to eat a healthy diet and opts to stay away from chocolate and candy probably consumes salads with a dressing that is sweetened with sugar, or fills up on a high-carb meal, not realising that carbohydrates contribute to tooth decay too.
One interesting side-effect of the Paleo diet is improved dental health. The Paleo diet involves eating fresh, natural produce as much as possible and avoiding refined carbohydrates and processed foods. The guiding principle of the Paleo diet is that if something wasn’t available to cavemen, then it isn’t worth eating. This simple and traditional approach to nutrition is good for your teeth in two ways.
Firstly, cutting down on the amount of sugars and starches in your diet reduces the amount of time that your teeth are under attack by acid. Instead of every meal being a banquet for the bacteria in your mouth, you spend more time eating foods that improve your dental health, slowing the rate of dental decline and giving your gums time to heal. In this case, it’s what you are not eating that is important.
Secondly, the Paleo diet is rich in fat-soluble vitamins, calcium and iron. Vitamins A and D are essential for dental health and are a major part of the Paleo diet. Iron, which is abundant in red meat and in green, leafy vegetables, helps your body to fight gum disease. Calcium is found in dairy products and helps to strengthen your teeth and bones. This makes following a Paleo-style diet particularly beneficial for children.
Following the Paleo diet should reduce the amount of dental care you need and will help to improve the health of your gums. Eating Paleo foods cannot reverse existing tooth decay, but it can help to prevent tooth decay from getting worse and hasten the recovery of damaged or inflamed gums. It is important to combine good nutrition with regular flossing, teeth brushing and other elements of basic dental care to ensure that your oral health remains as good as possible.