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How Does Salt Affect My Oral Health?

December 21, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — longviewdentalcenter @ 9:11 pm
A shaker full of salt, placed artfully next to a pile of even more salt

Salt makes everything taste better. It’s the first thing you reach for when something’s missing from a dish, and for good reason. That may be why we Americans eat so much of it; the American Heart Association estimates that 90 percent of people in the U.S. have too much sodium in their diet.

Most people know that salt can raise your blood pressure, but they might not be aware of how it can affect their teeth. As it turns out, sodium has a complicated relationship to oral health. If you’re wondering how salt is liable to affect teeth, here’s what you need to know.

How Does Salt Affect Oral Health?

In itself, salt doesn’t have very much to do with your teeth. Used in certain contexts, however, it can actually prevent oral health issues. In fact, it’s sometimes included in dental hygiene products. On the other hand, people who eat a high-sodium diet have had their teeth suffer as a result. It’s worth taking a look at the various ways that salt can affect your mouth, both good and bad:

How is Salt Good for Teeth?

Salt makes food delicious, but it has other properties that make it useful in dentistry. Salt is a disinfectant and anti-inflammatory, so a saltwater rinse is often used to bring down swelling from infections or recent oral surgery. Salt is also commonly mixed into toothpaste to help with foaming. Finally, salt is alkaline, meaning that it can sometimes counter acids that can erode enamel.

How is Salt Bad for Teeth?

As was mentioned before, sodium isn’t bad for teeth in itself. However, a sodium-rich diet can potentially lead to tooth decay. Most salty foods, like chips and pizza, are rich in carbohydrates and starches. Your saliva converts these into sugars that feed the bad bacteria in the mouth, leading to gum disease and tooth decay.

There’s also been some evidence to suggest that an increase in sodium affects the body’s ability to make use of calcium. This can lead to a decrease in bone density, which can in turn cause tooth loss or osteoporosis. You’d probably recognize other health issues cropping up before you reach sodium levels that high, but it’s worth keeping this in mind if you naturally have a lower bone density in the first place. You can ask your dentist at your next check-up if you have any signs of bone loss, and whether an excess of sodium may have contributed.

Salt has several oral health benefits when used as a disinfectant or an ingredient in other products. Notably, however, none of those benefits come from actually eating it. While an excess of sodium isn’t quite as bad for your teeth as eating too much sugar, it’s still worth being careful about how many salty snacks you’re putting away.

About the Author

Dr. George Stoddard has been practicing dentistry for twenty-five years, and he still gets enormous joy out of helping his patients love their smiles. That’s why he remains committed to staying up to date on the latest techniques in dentistry. Dr. Stoddard received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Texas Health Science Center. He’s also undergone an Advanced Education in General Dentistry course from the LSU School of Dentistry. If you have any questions about how certain foods can affect your oral health, Dr. Stoddard can be reached at his website or by phone at (903) 753-9758.

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