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Processed Carbohydrates Are Hard on Teeth

Aug 23, 2018

By Dean George

Depending on whom you ask, a diet rich in carbohydrates is good for you.

According to a recent British study though, some carbohydrates are better for your oral health than others.

In a study published in the August 2018
Journal of Dental Research, a review of 33 academic papers on starch and oral health found that the starches found in whole grain carbohydrates are better for you than the starches found in processed, or refined carbohydrates.

The review team reported that rapidly digestible starches like crackers, cakes and white bread made one more susceptible to cavities, periodontal (gum) disease, and oral cancer than slowly digestible starches like whole grains, legumes and brown rice.

Processed forms of starch break down into sugars in the mouth by amylase found in saliva. Amylase is an enzyme that breaks down starches into glucose, maltose and oligosaccharides.

There are different means of processing the starch found in carbohydrates, but all are less healthy for oral health than whole grain carbohydrates.

Researchers admitted while there was no connection between the amount of starchy food consumed and cavities, they do believe their findings show that processed starch found in carbohydrates increase the risk of cavities, periodontal disease and oral cancer.

“Despite an ill-advised fashion for eliminating carbohydrates from the diet, a carbohydrate-rich diet is shown to be fine for oral health so long as it is low in sugars and is based on whole grain varieties of carbs such as pasta, couscous and whole meal bread,” said lead researcher Paula Moynihan, Professor of Nutrition and Oral Health at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom.

A separate study in The Lancet made a similar finding that carbohydrate diets are fine but work best for those gaining 50% to 55% of their energy from them. Researchers found that diets consisting of more than 70% carbs or less than 40% have a higher mortality rate than those who consume a moderate amount of carbs.

Regardless of the amount of carbs you consume, remember that eating whole grain carbs is better for your oral health.

“The evidence suggests that a diet rich in whole grain carbohydrates is less likely to damage your oral health than one containing processed starches,” Moynihan said.

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