News Release

Researchers investigate the role of diet in caries prevention

Peer-Reviewed Publication

International Association for Dental Research

Seoul, Republic of Korea - Today at the 94th General Session & Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research, researcher Angus Walls, Edinburgh Dental Institute, Scotland, UK, will give a Keynote Address titled "What is the Role of Diet in Caries Prevention?" The IADR General Session is being held in conjunction with the 3rd Meeting of the IADR Asia Pacific Region and the 35th Annual Meeting of the IADR Korean Division.

Dental caries are caused by bacterial fermentation of dietary sugars that result in the production of acids just below the critical pH for demineralization of enamel and dentine. This process is dynamic because saliva is an efficient remineralizing solution that can repair acid-mediated demineralization. However, there are limits to the extent of demineralization that can be repaired by the action of saliva, and this ability is impaired in people with xerostomia. Strategies for caries prevention can have two approaches, prevention of demineralization and enhancement of remineralization. Evidence for the benefits of fluorides, that act largely by enhancing remineralization, is strong in terms of their use in toothpastes, with water fluoridation and as topical agents, supported by compelling epidemiology long-term observational studies and RCTs. The evidence against sugars consumption, to reduce demineralization, is less strong with mainly observational studies and cross-sectional epidemiology and few if any RCTs.

The research results determined that fluorides work and are effective at preventing caries. The effects of reducing sugars intake are modified by the action of fluoride but the two approaches can work synergistically to reduce caries activity. The use of fluorides alone cannot prevent caries in the presence of a high sugars diet. This is a particular problem in people with impaired salivary defense because of xerostomia.


Walls is a former treasurer of IADR and the current vice president. This research was funded by Public Health England.

This is a summary of oral session #0198 titled "What is the Role of Diet in Caries Prevention?" that will be presented by Angus Walls on Thursday, June 23, 2016, 8 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. at the COEX Convention and Exhibition Center, room 308A, as part of the session titled "Nutrition I."

About the International Association for Dental Research

The International Association for Dental Research (IADR) is a nonprofit organization with nearly 10,500 individual members worldwide, dedicated to: (1) advancing research and increasing knowledge for the improvement of oral health worldwide, (2) supporting and representing the oral health research community, and (3) facilitating the communication and application of research findings. To learn more, visit

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