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The Spicy Food Paradox

Posted by: Dr. Sirakian     Categories: Uncategorized

As you may already know, dental caries (cavities) are caused by bacteria-eating carbohydrates that get stuck in teeth and leave acid behind. This acid then erodes away at the enamel of teeth, causing cavities that, if left untreated, could result in more serious dental issues.

Luckily the body has some protection against the bacteria and acid in the form of saliva. The saliva acts as a sort of mouth rinse that washes away debris and makes the mouth less acidic. In fact, many people chew sugar-free gum for this very reason. The gum stimulates saliva flow and helps clean the mouth.

But there might be other ways to stimulate saliva flow. Recently, researchers confirmed what many spice aficionados would tell you, that spicy foods provide extra salivary stimulation. More specifically, they found that capsaicin, the chemical that makes chili peppers spicy, stimulates salivary glands in human and animals, even in dysfunctional transplanted salivary glands.

But before you go bite a chili pepper for your teeth’s sake, it’s worth remembering that, for some people, spicy food might trigger increased acidity in the mouth. Some people suffer from a condition called acid reflux (more commonly known as heartburn), where the acid from the stomach climbs through the esophagus and into the mouth, making it a more acidic environment. If acid is the culprit behind tooth decay, then it should come as no surprise that people who have acid reflux are also more likely to have enamel erosion.

This paradox of spicy food stimulating the salivary glands but also potentially causing acid reflux can be confusing, but if you consult with your dentist you can get a better idea of your risk. Don’t hesitate to ask at your next appointment!

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What Are Periodontal Pockets and Can You Keep Your Phone In One?

We’ll start off by making it clear that, no, you can’t keep anything in your periodontal pockets. In fact, the smaller they are the better. You may not notice it, but your gums are not completely attached to your teeth at the gum line. At first there’s actually a small gap between the tooth and […]

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3 Signs Your Enamel May Be Eroding

As you may already know, enamel is the hard substance that makes up the surface of the tooth. This surface can erode if someone has an acidic mouth, grinds their teeth, or brushes too hard. But how would you even know if your teeth are eroding? Luckily there are several signs that can indicate that […]

Sep
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What causes a gummy smile?

While a gummy smile can just be a result of having too much gums, there are a few other issues that could be going on that make a person’s smile appear gummy, such as: Improperly erupted teeth – If someone’s teeth erupt improperly, they could end up with only part of their teeth showing while […]

Aug
27

Can Dental Implants Get Diseased?

If you think that dental implants and crowns can’t get diseased, then you’d be right. Titanium implants and ceramic crowns can’t develop infections like in the same manner as regular teeth, but the bone and gums around them sure can. These diseases occur when bacteria latch onto the dental implant or base of the crown […]

Aug
19

5 Badass Dentists in History

There are some historical badasses, some of which you may have even heard of, that also happened to be dentists. We’ll start with the most famous and work our way down. Paul Revere – This Patriot that played some key roles in the American Revolution was also a dentist for a short period of time. […]

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