The aim here is to identify issues with your current diet that are leading to dental problems- such dental caries
or tooth erosion
The diet diary allows us to see (if done properly) what sorts of insults and onslaughts your teeth are facing on a daily basis. This paves the way for identifying what it is you need to change or modify in your diet to stop you getting problems.
Everything you eat and drink in one whole week should be recorded, or at the very least, one weekend day and two week days.
Your dentist will advise you, as to how long they would like you to carry out the analysis. When I say record everything you eat and drink, I mean everything... It is important to record:
(i) What you ate or drank; the time and the amount.
(ii) What time you brushed your teeth and what time you went to bed.
Your dentist will look at the findings with you and help you to identify any problem areas; perhaps hidden sugars that you may not be aware of, (such as in baked beans, breakfast cerials or so called ‘plain’ biscuits) and tailor a plan to suit you.
We have seen from the Stephan Curve
, how various things impact on the length of time our teeth spend in the danger zone- dissolving and demineralizing. Your diet diary will help to paint an accurate picture of what your
Stephan Curve looks like and in doing so, find out which of these are particular issues to you.
You should circle:
- All main meals - Are your main meals substantial enough to prevent later snacking?
- All sugar intakes – This includes both food and drink. How many do you have? When do you have them? Are they confined to meal times or spread out during the day. Do you have anything sugary directly before going to bed?
Things to consider:
- When you brush your teeth- Whether brushing is being beneficial or damaging to your teeth depends upon when you had your last food or your last drink.
- The pattern of your eating- If you have to snack just an hour or so, after a main meal, then perhaps you are not eating enough for your main meal. Do you eat a good breakfast? There is good reason why they say that 'it's the most important meal of the day'. It gives you energy and gets your brain and body functioning properly. It will also reduce the temptation to go for that sugar hit shortly after getting to work or school. There is lots of research to back this up.
- The number and type of food snacks- Are they mostly sugary?(cariogenic). What is their consistency? Are they dry and sticky and therefore take longer to be cleared from the mouth ? What are the alternatives you might like instead?
- The number and type of 'in-between meal' drinks- Are they mostly sugary? Could you be drinking water instead and doing your body and teeth the world of good.
It is important to:
(i) Be honest
- How much time there is between your sugar intakes- This is your tooth recovery time, the longer the better. If it’s always short, then that’s a sure fire signal that you're high risk for dental caries. To get your teeth to the safe zone requires at least 40 minutes of recovery time- that's nothing to eat or drink except water.
- Now, there’s no point substituting a healthy snack here and there for the chocolate you have already eaten in your diet diary- you are not doing yourself any favours. The important thing here is to be honest; with-out honesty, the dentist will find it hard to provide real helpful advice that can change your situation.
(ii) Put it in context
- It is important that the dentist understands your lifestyle too, so the advice they give can be made to fit in with it. It's no good, for example, the dentist saying no food or drink during the night- if you are a shift worker and get home at 9 am.
65% of all soft drinks are sold to under 15 year olds
Water fluoridation decreases the risk of caries by about 50%
A cup of tea contains fluoride around 1ppm
Low income families consume more sugar per person per day than higher income families
Nearly 75% of all sugars in the UK diet are added during the manufacture or cooking