The link between diet and dental health

10 October 2017

Tell us about your new book, The Dental Diet.

The Dental Diet is a book about my personal journey as a dental practitioner to researching and implementing nutritional health practices with respect to oral health. It's based on my chance discovery of a 1930s book written by a dentist named Weston Price, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. That discovery led me to research the fields of human anthropology, the oral and gut microbiome and epigenetics to better understand the oral-systemic connection. The book is a culmination of all of these fields, to show that all dental diseases - including crooked teeth - are shaped by the food we eat. It includes a 40-day eating program to reset mouth and whole-body health.

Why did you start writing about nutrition for oral health?

Practising as a dentist was a challenging and exciting time, but as the years went by I had more and more questions about oral health. I have a background in biomedical science, so I began researching other scientific fields and started to see that there were huge applications in oral health.

In your opinion, is there an ideal diet for good oral health?

It's mind-boggling that dietary recommendations have never been based on oral disease. The mouth provides one of the best measures of how diet influences our whole body. [Yet] nutritional guidelines have never really been modelled on oral health - and one of the biggest signs that our collective modern society is not eating the right foods are malocclusions, or crooked teeth. Children today don't grow the jaw space to house 32 teeth. Understanding the diet that allows the jaw to develop, as well as strong teeth that don't get decay, is [understanding] the ideal diet for good oral health.

How does the way children breathe affect their teeth?

Humans are designed to breathe through their nasal passages, and crooked teeth are often a sign of improper breathing habits. In dental practice we see this in children all the time, but there's a new myofunctional and interceptive orthodontic approach now that aims to correct oral posture (the tongue) and breathing to reconnect jaw growth in kids.

How should we educate children and adults about dental hygiene so that positive lifelong habits can be formed?

Dental hygiene should be seen as a useful adjunctive to real oral disease prevention. Real prevention is fixing the underlying processes that cause disease in the first place, which is primarily driven by nutritional input. When we fix nutrition, and other environmental factors like breathing, dental hygiene such as brushing, flossing and getting a dental clean every six to 12 month becomes far more effective.

How can a better understanding of oral hygiene affect overall health?

It's important to remember that plaque in the mouth has a biological role in the body. While we have modern tools to clean our teeth, a real understanding of the positive role of microbes in the mouth helps us to see how dental health reflects whole-body health.

The oral microbiome is in direct conversation with the gut microbiome, which is an exciting forefront in medicine and shows that bacteria mediate many chronic disease processes throughout the body. Your mouth is not only the start of the digestive microbiome: diseases like tooth decay and gum disease may have a direct influence on the gut microbes, which can lead to serious systemic disease.

To find out more about Dr Steven Lin and The Dental Diet, visit:

The original article can be found here.