Sugars and beyond. The role of sugars and the other nutrients and their potential impact on caries
The traditional concept of caries as a multifactorial transmittable and infectious disease has been challenged. Novel conceptual ideas have come to add to the complexity of this highly prevalent disease worldwide. Current etiological understanding of the disease has emphasized the pivotal role of sugars in caries. In fact, current definition points toward an ecological disease caused by the commensal microbiota that under ecological imbalances, mainly due to high and or frequent sugars consumption, creates a state of dysbiosis in the dental biofilm. This modern conceptual idea, however, tends to underrate a key issue. As humans are omnivore and consume a mix diet composed by a multitude of substances, the role of the diet in caries must not be restricted only to the presence of fermentable sugars. This review explores the contribution of other food components, ubiquitous to the diet, mostly as potentially protective factors. Anticaries nutrients might determine an environmental change, affecting the ecology of the oral microbiome and partially mitigating the effect of sugars. Understanding the function of the food usually consumed by the people will contribute new knowledge on the mechanisms associated with the onset of caries, on new caries risk variables and on potential novel strategies for the prevention and treatment of the disease.