This article was written by and on behalf of one of our hygienists, Tish Schlaker. Tish has a degree in Nutrition from Case Western Reserve University. After raising her six children, she then earned her Dental Hygiene degree at Lakeland Community College in 2014. Tish has a gentle touch, a very caring heart, and truly enjoys working with her patients. She is a valued addition to our team.
Nutrition and Oral Health
Good oral health has been linked to better overall health and disease prevention.
The foundation of your health is impacted by nutritional value of food and dietary choices. Nutrition plays a role in good oral health by helping to build up immunity to resist oral infections, periodontal disease, and prevent decay.
In order to maintain a healthy immune system you must meet all of your nutritional needs by eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods across all of the food groups, ensuring that needed protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals are absorbed and utilized in the body to support a healthy immune system. Antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E are protectors against free radicals which can damage cells. These vitamins are found mainly in colorful fruits and vegetables – especially those with purple, red, orange, and yellow hues. An immune system that is suppressed with a poor nutritional status can influence the progression of periodontal (gum) infections and disease.
The largest role that nutrition plays in oral health is in the prevention of tooth decay. The process of tooth decay involves three components – the tooth, the bacteria which causes tooth decay, and the carbohydrate or sugar. To reduce potential for tooth decay opt for carbohydrates such as whole grains, breads, rice, quinoa, non-starchy vegetables, and fruits. Less healthy carbohydrates containing sucrose and high fructose corn syrup are the main culprits to tooth decay. These include: refined breads and pastries, soda, juices, and candy.
Fats and proteins consumed in a meal help coat the tooth surface to protect it from sugars. Consuming dairy products keeps the saliva rich in calcium and phosphorous. Vitamin D is very important in helping your body to absorb calcium and phosphorous.
Sugary liquids leave an invisible film on the teeth. The destructive effects of soda, fruit juice, and energy drinks are the main cause of early childhood and teen-age tooth decay. One 12 ounce can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar as well as acid. Energy drinks and diet soda have both citric acid and phosphoric acid which directly attack the enamel of the tooth. Rinsing the mouth out with water after drinking these beverages can greatly reduce the negative effects of these liquid carbohydrates. Drinking these liquids with a straw or having them with a meal can help neutralize the ph.
By following these guidelines, you can keep your teeth for a lifetime. Variety is the key to good health. Choose vegetables and fruits at meals to help make your plate nice and colorful. These will boost your immune system. Keep your sweets, chips, crackers and soft candies to a moderate level. Limit those events to three times a day to reduce the potential for dental decay. And as always, remember to brush thoroughly at least 2 times a day, floss once a day, and use a daily antibacterial mouthwash. See your dentist at least twice a year or as recommended by that professional.
Good health, good teeth!
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