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How we eat may be the underlying cause of tooth decay

Tuesday, June 27, 2023 | Posted in GEHA Connection Dental Network News

How we eat may be the underlying cause of tooth decay (dental caries). This is because bacteria that lead to tooth decay feed on carbohydrates. By changing dietary habits, patients can stop progression and prevent dental disease formation.  For example, eating a nutritious diet and limiting the duration of exposure to sugar and/or acidic foods and beverages may stop dental disease progression and prevent new tooth decay and/or erosive tooth wear.  While this concept is well-known, it is important to revisit with patients because how we eat is essential to oral health and dental wellness. Here is a helpful list of protective foods that may improve oral and overall health. (Read the full article here.)


Key vitamins and minerals: A quick reference for dentists


Oral problem because of deficiency

Oral problem because of excess

Food sources

Vitamin D

Incomplete calcification of teeth and alveolar bone, enamel hypoplasia

Pulp calcification, enamel hypoplasia

Egg yolks, cheddar cheese, salmon, trout, mushrooms, fortified products (milk, orange juice)

Vitamin K

Increased risk of bleeding and candidiasis


Green, leafy vegetables (collard greens, spinach, kale), broccoli, soybeans, pumpkin, pine nuts, blueberries

Vitamin A

Taste sensitivity, xerostomia, disturbed enamel, development leading to poor or absent calcification and hypoplasia in mature teeth, increased caries risk

Impaired cell differentiation and epithelialization resulting in delayed and impaired oral tissues

Sweet potatoes, spinach, pumpkins, carrots, dairy products,
Cantaloupes, mangos, red peppers

B2 Riboflavin

Angular cheilitis/cheilosis, shiny and red lips, sore tongue that changes color and shape


Yogurt, milk, chicken, beef, mushrooms, cheese, chicken, eggs, quinoa, fortified breakfast cereals

B3 Niacin

Angular cheilitis/cheilosis, mucositis, stomatitis, oral pain, swollen tongue, ulcerative gingivitis


Chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna, beef, brown and white rice, peanuts, potatoes, fortified breakfast cereals

Folic acid

Angular cheilitis/cheilosis, mucositis, stomatitis, sore or burning mouth, inflamed gingiva, glossitis tongue


Spinach, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, white rice, avocados, fortified breakfast cereals

B12 Cyanocobalamin

Angular cheilitis/cheilosis, sore or burning mouth, mucositis, stomatitis, hemorrhagic gingiva, halitotsis, glossitis, delayed wound healing, xerostomia


Clams, tuna, salmon, beef, yogurt, milk, cheese, nutritional yeast, fortified breakfast cereals


Incomplete calcification of teeth, increased risk for caries


Dairy products, tofu, salmon, beans, kale, broccoli, fortified breakfast cereals, orange juice


Incomplete calcification of teeth, increased risk of caries if present during tooth development, increased susceptibility to periodontal disease via effects on alveolar bone


Dairy products, beef, salmon, chicken, lentils, potatoes, rice

Rehan, K., Whole-Body Dentistry: How Nutrition Affects Oral Health, Academy of General Densitry, 16 May, 2022.

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