Back in the day, I remember my mom marvelling at the fact that my grandmother — almost 90 at the time — still had all her own teeth.
Times have changed … somewhat. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in every four adults older than 65 has no natural teeth.
Why is nutrition important for our teeth? Because nutrients maintain strong teeth, and strong teeth maintain our ability to get nutrients. Here’s the latest on this topic from a recent position paper by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
Bacteria that live in our mouth love sugar. When they feed on “fermentable carbohydrates,” they produce acids that destroy the protective mineral coating of tooth enamel. And they produce enzymes that attack proteins in the teeth. Result: weak, decayed teeth.
So what are “fermentable carbs” that pump up mouth bacteria? Beverages sweetened with sugar, including soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks and sweet tea.
Other fermentable carbs include any sticky-sweet foods, such as raisins and dried fruit, honey and molasses. And let’s not forget the candies, cookies and cakes that we savour while our mouth bacteria destroy our teeth.