How diet can ultimately change your oral health.
By: Dr. Marc Lazare, DDS
Let’s face it – most American do not eat well. Even bodybuilders, athletes and models (who look as if they are eating right) may not be getting all of the nutrition that they need. Findings indicate that unbalanced diets and subclinical deficiencies are becoming increasingly common.
Why is it that a person who has impeccable oral hygiene may develop cavities and periodontal disease, while another who is neglectful of his or her oral hygiene, may not have any problems? Perhaps, the answer lies in the difference between their nutritional intakes.
Poor nutrition and a lack of certain key nutrients increase the risk of developing oral diseases; exposing the mouth to infection and periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a condition that affects an estimated one in three adults in the US, and is the leading cause of adult tooth loss.
Approximately, 50 percent of all Americans have some form of gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), which is often a precursor to periodontal disease. Recent studies have shown that there is a direct link between periodontal disease and such serious conditions as heart disease and diabetes. Eating a well-balanced diet and taking nutrional supplements will help to strengthen one’s immune system, promote healing, help prevent oral cancers and give individuals healthy teeth and gums.
In addition to periodontal disease, dietary deficiencies have been associated with such oral health conditions as; osteoporosis of the surrounding bone, loss of taste, bad breath and mouth and tongue sores. Deficiencies in vitamin C, iron and zinc could compromise the resistance of our gum tissue to the bacteria in dental plaque. So what recommendations should a dentist make to their patients regarding diet and nutrition? My number one suggestion is to eat a well-balanced and to take the necessary nutritional supplements; otherwise your teeth and hums may be at risk.
The majorities of Americans do not eat fresh vegetables, but would rather eat frozen, processed and canned vegetables. We are living in a society where children grow up on Big Macs rather than a fresh, home-cooked meal, where candy bars, instead of fresh fruit are the afterschool snack of choice. And the results of these poorly balanced diets are evident in the mouths of our patients.
According to the 2000 Surgeon General’s report, Oral Health in America, the maintenance of the healthy mouth depends on a lifelong supply of adequate nutrients. It is hard enough even for those who choose to eat healthy, to receive the necessary supply of vitamins and mineral.
What about those people who choose to eat poorly? It has been said that many Americans begin to dig their graves with their fork. People are under the illusion that a frozen dinner is a nutritional meal. Well, let’s consider the nutritional losses in a “TV” dinner. There is a 40 percent loss of vitamin A, a 100 percent loss of vitamin C, and 80 percent loss of the entire B complex and a 50 percent loss of vitamin E. You would probably get more fiber by eating the box it came in.
It is crucial that we raise the level of awareness concerning the importance of nutrition on oral health. Individuals who are at an even greater risk of developing nutritional deficiencies include smokers, diabetics, the elderly adolescents, women during and after menopause and lactating and pregnant women. However, a poor diet is not the only reason people may be nutritionally deficient. Even if people are eating well, food processing, pollution, stress, alcohol, smoking and various medications and medical conditions can interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients or accelerate their depletion. Some of the drugs that prevent a person from receiving the benefits of a well-balanced diet include: aspirin, cold remedies, allergy pills, corticosteroids’, laxatives, antacids, barbiturates, diuretics, caffeine and even birth control pills, illness, injury, physical and mental stress also place a strain on the body and act to deplete its nutritional stores.
As a cosmetic dentist, I feel it is very important not only to create the perfect smile, but to make certain that perfect smile is built upon a strong and healthy foundation. The key achieving this healthy smile is by maintaining proper oral hygiene – regular dental check-ups and by taking nutritional supplements that are specifically geared towards optimum oral health. After all of the advances in dental office care and home care, 90 percent of the populations are still developing periodontal disease. Nutrient deficiency can become a major contributing factor in periodontal disease by inhibiting the mouth’s ability to resist infection. In other words – your diet does affect your dental health.
After all of the advances in dental office care and home care, 90 percent of the populations are still developing periodontal disease. Nutrient deficiency can become a major contributing factor in periodontal disease by inhibiting the mouth’s ability to resist infection. In other words – your diet does affect your dental health. The future of dentistry lies in the prevention of disease through the consumption of a well-balanced diet and the necessary nutritional supplements. Remember.. disease will occur less frequently in a well-nourished body.