House Call - 2017

How Does Indian Diet Impact Dental and Oral Health?

By Vatsal Suthar

How does Diet Matter?

Our dietary habits directly affect our physical well-being and quality of life. This also affects our dental health. Therefore, it is essential that you should take a balanced diet that contains sufficient amounts of all the nutrients which are necessary for an active and healthy lifestyle. Also, we should make sure to cut down on excessive sugar and carbohydrate intake, if we want to have healthy, white teeth.

Indian Diet

Indian diet is nearly the same all over the subcontinent including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, etc. Of course, there are many regional variations. For example, people of Punjab (Indian as well as Pakistani), traditionally like excess sugar and fat in their diet, and eat a lot of sweets.

Individual Components of the Indian Diet

Roti and Curry- Made from relatively coarse wheat flour, roti is the main food item over most of the sub-continent except Bangladesh. The roti is normally eaten with some sort of an additive, like a curry, carrying a little bit of salt, spice, fat and liquid. These additives moisten the roti, and the additives help salivation. Together, these things make chewing an easy and a pleasurable job. At the same time, it makes for a balanced and tooth friendly diet. While curry is generally safe, it tends to become dangerous for your overall and dental health, if you like to eat curry be ready for yellow staining of teeth in the long term.

Rice- Rice is the main diet in South India and Bangladesh, supplemented with fish, often in the form of a curry. This too is a tooth-friendly diet, except that rice is rich in starch. The carbohydrates from rice, if left on teeth for a full day, will attract the bacteria in your mouth to start cavities. Daal, or lentils, are also cooked in a curry fashion and serve the same purpose. The combination has no adverse effect on oral health.

Vegetarian Diet- Vegetarian diet, eaten mostly by Hindus, is all that minus meat of any form. If a variety of vegetables is consumed, the diet should be quite tooth-friendly, especially because absence of fibrous meat means less sticking of food in the teeth. In addition, the antioxidants found in vegetables and fruit provide a strong weapon against periodontal (gum) disease which is very common in the Indian population.

Chai Tea- Tea has been prepared for thousands of years and is increasingly popular today. Indian tea prepared hot with milk has many benefits. As with curry, tea has many anti-oxidants that help with muscle regeneration and cancer prevention. In addition, it is an anti-inflammatory which helps with controlling gum disease and diabetes. Milk with tea obviously adds calcium, which promotes strong bone and teeth maintenance.

Does the Indian Diet Have any Adverse Health Effects?

Excess of anything is bad! While the Indian dishes are rich in exotic and delicious spices, care must be taken to avoid food additives or coloring agents, as they can cause various dental problems including oral cancer. Also, too much spices will not only damage our digestive system, but they can also have a detrimental effect on our teeth and gums by decreasing saliva formation, quality of saliva, or even damage taste buds. The damage is accelerated if you smoke or drinking alcohol.

The Final Word

Like many other types of diets throughout the world, Indian diet is safe for your overall and dental health if it contains all the essential nutrients which must be present in a balanced diet. Sweets and starchy snacks consumed in excess without proper hygiene is a perfect recipe for cavity formation. Judicious use of spices and coloring agents can have an adverse effect on the soft tissue and appearance of your teeth. Here's a cup of chai to good oral health!