Cariogenic diet means the diet which can cause caries or we say which has potential to cause caries if the precautions are not taken. Before saying that whether particular diet is cariogenic or not, various factors have to be considered like

  1. Type of the diet
  2. How much time it takes to clear from the mouth after consumption
  3. How frequently it is consumed
  4. Composition of the diet
  5. Presence of caries inhibiting component in the diet
  6. Pattern of eating

Type of the diet- That means the form of the diet. Whether it is refined or coarse. The refined diet is more cariogenic, as it takes more time to clear from the mouth and is sticky. At the same time the coarse diet has more roughage in it so it has self cleansing potential .it increases the salivary flow, which also helps in the prevention of the caries.

How much time it takes to clear from the mouth? The diet which is sticky and refined takes more time to clear from the mouth and it has more caries potential. For that reason carbohydrates like potato chips which are sticky are considered more cariogenic than cold drinks and juices which have less clearance time.tha is why coarse food is considered better as it is not sticky and has less clearance time.

How frequently the snacking is done

When a particular diet is consumed it is fermented and the acid is produced. This acid causes the demineralization of the tooth. The ph of the oral cavity is 5.2 to 5.5. it is called the critical ph. If the ph goes below this the demineralization process starts. Whenever any food is consumed the ph goes below the critical ph. it takes around 30 to 40 minutes after which the ph goes above the critical ph and the process of remineralization starts. If the frequent snacking is done, the frequency and duration of acid attacks on the teeth increases. The demineralization process supersedes the remineralization process. The destruction is more than the repair and we end up having carious teeth. That is why frequent snacking or snacking in between meals is not recommended.

Consistency of food- the food which needs chewing is recommended at it increases the salivary flow which is quiet helpful.

Composition of the diet – composition of the diet also matters. some carbohydrates are more cariogenic than the others lie sucrose which is a disaccharide is easily fermentable so it is more cariogenic. That is why noncariogenic sugars are being added in the food items.

  1. Presence of caries inhibiting factor in the diet –every body is aware of the role of fluoride in reducing the caries. It makes the tooth resistant to caries. Similarly there are other factors which have protective influence on the tooth. They decrease the incidence of caries.protiens, phytates in cereals ad cocoa, Calcium and phosphorous are such components. They inhibit caries

  2. By reducing the dissolution rate of the enamel. It means it makes the enamel resistant to acid attack.

  3. They also reduce the fall of ph of the oral cavity. The process of demineralization starts when the ph falls below the critical ph i.e. 5.5.

  4. They increase the rate of remineralization.

  5. Presence of peanut, lectin, cocoa, fat and cheese also decreases the cariogenicity of diet to certain extent. They act by forming the protective layer on the enamel so that the affect of acid is less, at the same time they replace the carbohydrates which are considered cariogenic.

  6. Various studies have been carried out and the relationship between the consumption of sugar and the incidence of caries is established.

Pattern of eating –this means in which sequence you consume food. We know that the acid is produced by eating pears or sucrose but that gets neutralized if they are consumed with peanuts or cheese.

What are the qualities that a diet with low cariogenic potential should have

If we say that the diet should have low cariogenic potential then it should have certain qualities like

  1. Low fermentable sugar content
  2. It should be high in protein content
  3. It should have moderate fat content also.
  4. It’s mineral content should be high
  5. It should have strong buffering capacity. Ph should be >6.
  6. It should be able to increase the salivary flow

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