Does Salt affect your Oral Health?

Does salty food cause oral health problems?

Sodium consumption is generally understood to be damaging for overall health. Intake of too much dietary sodium is associated with high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. Today, Dr. Mark Reichman analyzes salt’s affect on your oral health. Or rather, sodium’s affect on your oral health.

Sodium is not exactly the salt you shake onto bland foods. Salt alone does not damage tooth enamel. It’s the sodium component of unhealthy foods, and usually high-carb foods and high in sodium. Even more so, these foods are usually highly processed.  The American Heart Association warns against using salt liberally in your diet. If products are already sugary and rich in carbs,  like pizza, pasta, breads, and snacks like pretzels and chips, they should be enjoyed infrequently in moderation. These treats are among the top carriers of sodium in the American diet. They may be relatively low in sugar but their starches metabolize into simple sugars. Processed foods like the ones mentioned above often contribute to higher potential for decay and disease.

The bacteria in your mouth that grows into plaque and tartar multiplies through exposure to simple sugars.  The longer the unhealthy elements remain in your mouth, the higher the risk on your tooth enamel.

So, damage can be prevented by avoiding sodium-rich foods.

However, applying sodium it to your teeth through certain tools is actually beneficial. The American Dental Association approves sodium lauryl sulfate and other sodium-based compounds because they act as foaming detergents. Mild salt rinses are often recommended to soothe tooth sores and cleanse bacterial infections.

Senior citizens are told to hold a <2300 mg/d level of daily sodium consumption. Even though the statistics don’t require you to limit their salt intake, it is usually advised that the elderly watch their sodium intake especially to protect their teeth. But a study by the Institute of Medicine shows was no significant evidence showing correlation between sodium consumption and mortality rate.


Preventing Cavities

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dental caries (tooth decay) is the most common chronic disease of children in the United States.

What exactly is tooth decay? Most of us know it in the form of a cavity, once the germs and bacteria in your mouth have eaten away at the tooth, leaving that small hole.  The deeper the tooth decay, the more layers of the tooth are affected. This also indicates the severity of the problem.

While we know that the teeth are a type of bone, this leads us to believe that they are formidable against biological deterioration, exposure to the elements in our mouth actually threatens their long-term health.

The tooth is composed of three layers: The protective outer layer is enamel, the middle layer is the calcified tissue dentin, and the center is the pulp with a variety of important nerves and blood vessels.

There are a few factors that contribute to tooth decay, especially for adolescents. Eating sugary foods and sodas feed bad bacteria. The bacteria that forms to become plaque use sugar as a form of energy, so with sugar, they are able multiply faster. The plaque thus grows in size and thickness and accelerates the decay process. Not practicing proper brushing and flossing technique lets this bacteria grow.

Another factor that often gets neglected is flouride intake. Flouride is added to many public water reservoirs because it makes teeth more resistant to plaque-produced acids.

Sometimes, children can’t control all aspects of their dental health. This is where the community efforts can change the lives of children for the better in terms of dental hygiene.

Community water flouridation is one of the key assets to preventing tooth decay. Even though people now also get fluoride from other sources such as toothpaste, rinses, and other topical applications, the CDC recognizes flouridation as 1 of the 10 great public health achievements of the twentieth century! Many schools in the U.S. also sponsor dental sealant programs which prove to 60% less decay in pit and fissures of the back teeth.

A new generations of Americans will hopefully enjoy better oral health than their parents. However, those who are poor, racial and ethnic minority groups, the elderly still have severe dental decay. Through proper community efforts to educate and practice proper hygiene, we can all hope for a future without tooth decay.