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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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If you suffer from swollen gums, missing teeth, or other poor oral health symptoms, then you may be at a higher risk of contracting human papillomavirus. Known as HPV, the human papillomavirus is a sexually transmitted disease that results in cancers of the cervix, mouth, and throat. If you have poor oral hygiene, you are […]

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Eating Disorders & Dentistry

Eating disorders are a serious problem in today’s society. More than 10 million Americans currently suffer from serious eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating. Not only do these eating disorders take a serious toll on your body, but they can also harm your teeth. People who suffer from anorexia starve themselves in […]

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Don’t Fall Asleep With Your Dentures In!

Having dentures can be challenging, especially for new wearers. It may take awhile for many patients to become accustomed to to their size, shape, and orientation, as well as adjusting to a proper cleaning and care routine. However, whether you are new to dentures or a seasoned pro, you must follow this basic rule: don’t […]

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Vegetarian? Your Dental Health Could be at Risk

We all have different prerogatives when discussing food choices. One of the major food prerogatives is becoming a vegetarian. Some of us choose this lifestyle, but do we ever consider any of the consequences associated with it? In terms of dental health, there are some concerns related to a strict vegetarian diet. First, there are […]

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Falling Asleep Without Brushing

Have you ever gone to sleep without brushing your teeth? You may think, “Oh it’s just this one time,” but after reading this you will never have that “one time” again! We all know that we are supposed to brush and floss our teeth at least twice a day, but what exactly happens when two […]

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