The starch risk to teeth

August 7, 2018, Newcastle University
Credit: klaus beyer/public domain

An examination of research on oral health, commissioned by the World Health Organisation, has indicated that for oral health we should stick to whole grain carbohydrates and avoid processed ones, especially if sweet.

Food contains different types of starchy with varying degrees of processing. Although the researchers found no association between the total amount of starch eaten and tooth decay, they did find that more processed forms of starch increased risk of cavities. This is because they can be broken down into sugars in the mouth, by amylase found in saliva.

Further findings, although based on very few available studies and weaker data, suggested a lower risk of oral cancer from consuming whole grain starches, and that whole may also offer protection against gum disease.

The findings come from a review of the 33 academic papers on starch and oral health and is published today in the Journal of Dental Research.

Paula Moynihan, Professor of Nutrition and Oral Health at Newcastle University, UK, who lead the research said: "The evidence suggests that a diet rich in whole grain carbohydrates is less likely to damage your oral health than one containing processed starches."

In the review, 33 papers were included of studies on foods containing what were characterized as rapidly digestible starches (e.g. white bread, crackers, biscuits, cakes, pretzels) and slowly digestible starches (e.g. wholegrains, legumes), and their relationships with dental caries, and gum (periodontal) disease.

Updating WHO guidance on carbohydrate intake

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is currently updating its guidance on , including assessment of dietary fibre and starch quality.

WHO currently recommends reducing free intake to less than 10 % of total energy (calorie) intake, and suggests further reduction to less than 5% for additional health benefits.

Free sugars are sugars that are added to foods by the manufacturer, cook, or consumer, plus those naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

Professor Moynihan added: "Despite an ill-advised fashion for eliminating carbohydrates from the diet, a carbohydrate-rich diet is shown to be fine for so long as it is low in sugars and is based on whole grain varieties of carbs such as pasta, couscous and wholemeal bread. They key for shoppers is to look for wholemeal and wholegrain on the labels."

Additional research commissioned by the WHO into the effects of carbohydrate quality on other outcomes, including cardiovascular diseases, cancer and type 2 diabetes, will be used to inform the forthcoming guideline.

Explore further: Relationship between amount and frequency of sugars intake by children

More information: K. Halvorsrud et al, Effects of Starch on Oral Health: Systematic Review to Inform WHO Guideline, Journal of Dental Research (2018). DOI: 10.1177/0022034518788283

Related Stories

Relationship between amount and frequency of sugars intake by children

July 26, 2018
At the 96th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), held in conjunction with the IADR Pan European Regional (PER) Congress, Paula Moynihan, Newcastle University, England, gave an oral ...

Recommended levels of sugar halved

March 7, 2014
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has halved its recommended levels of sugar intake, thanks to a study carried out by Newcastle University academics.

Call for action on cutting sugar

December 11, 2013
A study by Newcastle University researchers into the effects of sugars on our oral health recommends cutting down on the sweet additive as part of a global initiative to reduce tooth decay.

Benefits of eating carbohydrates

June 21, 2016
Ah, carbohydrates, though often touted by the media as an enemy in the game of weight loss, they are an essential macronutrient as our body's main source of fuel and a necessary component to maintaining proper cellular function.

If you don't have coeliac disease, avoiding gluten isn't healthy

January 8, 2018
Coeliac disease, an allergy to gluten that causes damage to the intestine, affects 1% of Australians. But more than ten times this number, or around 11% of the population, follows a gluten-free diet by choice, and up to 30% ...

Study explores carbohydrates' impact on head, neck cancers

April 12, 2018
Consuming high amounts of carbohydrates and various forms of sugar during the year prior to treatment for head and neck cancer may increase patients' risks of cancer recurrence and mortality, a new study reports.

Recommended for you

Regrowing dental tissue with stem cells from baby teeth

September 11, 2018
Sometimes kids trip and fall, and their teeth take the hit. Nearly half of children suffer some injury to a tooth during childhood. When that trauma affects an immature permanent tooth, it can hinder blood supply and root ...

The starch risk to teeth

August 7, 2018
An examination of research on oral health, commissioned by the World Health Organisation, has indicated that for oral health we should stick to whole grain carbohydrates and avoid processed ones, especially if sweet.

Experts question benefits of fluoride-free toothpaste

August 7, 2018
Dental health experts worry that more people are using toothpaste that skips the most important ingredient—fluoride—and leaves them at a greater risk of cavities.

Researchers discover cellular messengers communicate with bacteria in the mouth

May 8, 2018
A new UCLA-led study provides clear evidence that cellular messengers in saliva may be able to regulate the growth of oral bacteria responsible for diseases, such as periodontitis and meningitis.

Drug-filled, 3-D printed dentures could fight off infections

April 25, 2018
Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. denture-wearing population suffer frequent fungal infections that cause inflammation, redness and swelling in the mouth.

Bacteria boost antifungal drug resistance in severe childhood tooth decay

April 25, 2018
Early childhood caries, a form of severe tooth decay affecting toddlers and preschoolers, can set children up for a lifetime of dental and health problems. The problem can be significant enough that surgery is the only effective ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.