Science-- there's something for everyone

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dental myths

Carole Palmer, Dustin Burnett and Brian Dean from Tufts University have published a list of dental myths in the journal Nutrition Today. The review article is geared toward helping people recognize the importance of oral health. I wrote previously about how oral health can affect heart health. Here are a few more things you should know about your teeth:

Prolonged exposure to sugar is worse than high amounts of sugar. In other words, sucking on a hard candy for an hour is worse for your teeth than chewing up a couple of sugar cubes. Not that dentists recommend munching on sugar cubes.

Teeth can be affected by osteoporosis. If osteoporosis is bad enough to weaken facial bones, it can lead to tooth loss.

Nutrition in pregnant women can affect the health of their babies' mouths. Poor nutrition, particularly during the second trimester when teeth are developing, can result in an increased tendency for the child to develop dental caries (cavities) later in life. There is also some evidence that nutritional deficiencies in the womb put children at risk for cleft palates and other oral deformities.

And while we’re on the subject of children, losing baby teeth to decay is not risk free. The infection that caused the cavity can spread through the jaw and damage the undescended adult teeth.