Raisin Compounds May Reduce Cavity-Causing Bacteria
By Julie Miller Jones PhD, CNS, LN
Raisins contain phenolics and other antioxidants that help prevent the growth of mouth bacteria. Thus, even though they adhere to tooth surfaces, compounds in raisins do not promote the growth of decaycausing bacteria.
Dental health and nutrition have always been linked. Good food choices help to build strong teeth, and poor food choices are one of the culprits in gum disease (gingivitis) and cavities (dental caries). Several factors work together in the mouth to promote tooth decay. Prevention strategies involve inhibiting or changing one of the factors.
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In addition, catechin and other phenolic antioxidants quell reactive oxygen species that are root causes of inflammation in gingivitis.
© 2006. CALIFORNIA RAISIN MARKETING BOARD
Dental Caries - Background
Decay-causing Streptococcus mutans are normal mouth inhabitants. These bacterias can convert sugars and starches from foods into acids. Plaque is formed when bacteria, acid, food debris and saliva combine in the mouth. This sticky mixture accumulates on teeth within 20 minutes after eating. Plaque that remains on the teeth forms tartar. Both plaque and tartar irritate the gums, resulting in gingivitis and, ultimately, periodontitis. The number one strategy for keeping teeth healthy is good dental hygiene, including frequent brushing and flossing and use of fluoride products.
Food choice is also a strategy for keeping teeth healthy. Diets that build strong teeth and enamel are critical to teeth resistant to dental caries. While some experimental and animal studies suggest that fruits and some starchy staples are cariogenic, this is not supported by epidemiological data. Several studies show that high intakes of starchy staple foods, such as vegetables and fruits, are associated with low levels of dental caries. 4,5 In fact, a large survey of 2-to 5-year-old children showed that eating fewer than 5 servings of vegetables and fruits more than tripled the risk of tooth decay.6 Since discretionary foods and snacks with sugars and starches have long been suspected of increasing the risk of tooth decay, health professionals have recommended limiting their intake. This has been especially true when recommending between-meal snacks if the food sticks to the tooth surface. Sticky foods have been shown to be more cariogenic than non-sticky foods because they remain on the tooth surface.7 Dental professionals have commonly recommended that healthy choices, such as raisins and other dried fruit, be part of a...