The main function of the teeth is to chew food and to help break it down. On one hand, the food itself can be the main cause of dental caries and periodontal disease, and on the other hand, it can help to prevent caries and to ensure the strength of the tooth enamel. Proteins and minerals are necessary during the development of a child’s teeth.
They are delivered through breast milk and dairy products (cow’s milk, cheese) that the child consumes during the periods of the formation of primary and permanent teeth. With a long enough period of breastfeeding, followed by regular intake of dairy products in childhood, the tooth structure of the enamel and dentine builds up fully and is resistant to tooth cavities.
But when instead of regular intake of dairy foods, a child eats regularly sugary foods (lollipops, waffles, chocolate), it is harder to build complete and sustainable enamel and dentine. As a result, the teeth are prone to caries. If in addition to the caries causing effect of sweet foods, insufficient or irregular brushing is added, the risk for development of caries increases greatly and usually such children have numerous cavities. Inadequate and poor nutrition in childhood during the formation and development of the tooth enamel leads to reduced strength and durability in the future, even under strict oral hygiene, and the likelihood for the development of caries is great.
Other very important factors for food prevention of caries and periodontal diseases are the type and texture of food. Raw solid foods and foods rich in fibre (vegetables, meat, and cabbage) are difficult to stick to the teeth. Moreover, they clean naturally the tooth surfaces during chewing and thereby prevent the development of caries. On the other hand soft, mashed and sticky foods (pasta, cooked rice, products from the confectionery industry – cakes, waffles, etc.) stick firmly on the teeth and quickly form a large amount of dental plaque. So high quantities of difficult-to-clean plaque and inadequate or irregular brushing lead to circumstances which favor rapid caries formation.
An interesting fact is that culinary processed and soft foods are indirect cause of jaw deformities (crooked teeth). This is due to the fact that once people ate mostly raw and unprocessed foods and the teeth and jaws were adapted to chew with a greater strength. After culinary processing (cooking, baking) became common, the foods are much softer and easier to chew. We no longer need large and strong muscles and chewing jaws, so this resulted in a reduction in their size. However, evolutionary the size of the jaw bones decreases faster than the size of individual teeth. This leads to lack of space for proper alignment of all teeth in the jaw, which leads to orthodontic deformities (crooked teeth) or impacted wisdom teeth.
Finally, proper nutrition is one of the main factors in preventing tooth decay. When planning a diet, there should not be extremes such as the complete exclusion of sweet foods or eating only dairy foods or fruits. It is recommended an increased intake of beneficial and important for dental health foods during childhood (milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, yellow cheese, cabbage, fruits and vegetables) and reduced intake of sugary foods, containing processed carbohydrate (wafers, lollipops, chocolate, cakes, etc.). Another recommendation to reduce the harmful effects of eating sweet foods is not ending a meal with them – an example being a piece of cheese after sweet dessert, which creates caries protective environment in the mouth. When food prophylaxis in children is combined with fluorine prophylaxis and dental sealants, the prevention of caries is optimal.