Even before a child is born, he can receive stores of calcium and fluoride for tooth health from a mother's diet, or systemically. Although some advocate avoiding fluoride for health reasons, the American Dental Association (ADA) and others promote its use for healthy teeth and gums [source: ADA]. As we grow, regular dental visits and conscientious oral care with topical, or applied fluoride, help keep mouth bacteria at bay and the remineralization process of saliva normalized enough to neutralize day-to-day demineralization. Poor dietary choices, such as consuming a lot of soda, sugary and starchy foods, and sticky teeth-hugging candies and fruits work fast to break down the mineral integrity of enamel. Snacking throughout the day is particularly damaging to teeth, whereas brushing soon after meals and avoiding corrosive foods in between is a good lifelong habit.
Short-term, or acute, illnesses and long-term, or chronic, diseases also affect oral health a great deal, and medications used to combat germs and disease progression often rob the mouth of moisture needed to fight bacteria around the teeth and gums. Whenever dry mouth sets in, saliva can't keep up with bacterial growth and enamel and dentin can break down quickly.
Dry mouth also occurs in some people naturally, and treating this condition with oral or topical treatments may be necessary. Treating it in the short-term may be as simple as chewing sugarless gum, but checking with a dentist no matter the cause or frequency is advisable.
A healthy body is capable of fighting off infection and bacteria, and it keeps body processes in balance in a condition called homeostasis. Our mouths have their own balance of demineralization and remineralization, and keeping this ongoing process in check and neutralized will help keep teeth strong enough to break down foods that benefit the body from the toes up.
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