The Role of Nutrition on Your Oral Health

By Dr. Jonathan Richter, DDS FAG

Nutrition can play a major factor in the way we feel and how we deal with infections. Lack of vitamin D for example, can constitute a higher risk of tooth attachment loss in patients with periodontal disease.

Were you aware that nutrition can play a major factor in the way we feel? Lack of certain nutrients can significantly impact many of the processes that our bodies utilize in order to fight off bacterial infections.

Periodontal inflammatory disease is caused by uncontrolled infection that goes untreated, causing an immune response by the body. Lack of vitamin D for example, can constitute a higher risk of tooth attachment loss in patients with periodontal disease. Vitamin D has antimicrobial properties that can diminish the amount of bacteria in the mouth. Tooth loss associated with periodontal inflammatory disease can ultimately affect the dietary quality and nutrient intake. Poor nutrient intake can increase the risk for systemic diseases.

Poor nutrition is also caused by dietary decisions we make. Unhealthy eating can lead to other oral problems such as dental caries, which are also caused by bacterial infection. Sugars are a primary factor involved in developing dental caries. Consumption of processed sugars allow for bacteria present in the oral cavity to feed and produce and acid by product; which lowers the pH. This acidic environment contributes to the demineralization of the tooth enamel. This destructive effect is caused by the consumption of sodas, juices, energy drinks, and many other products loaded with unhealthy sugars.

What can you do to help prevent inflammation?

Having good dental hygiene habits and consuming a well balanced diet is best when trying to maintain a healthy mouth. However, the best way to avoid inflammation on a cellular level is to have a diet containing foods that have anti-inflammatory properties. High fiber content found in fruits, legumes, vegetables, seeds provide the body with vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, and good digestive enzymes. Omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as fish are essential in combating their inflammatory counterpart omega -6 fatty acids. Antioxidants found in herbs and spices such as basil, mint, curry, cilantro and turmeric are believed to be as effective as hydrocortisone in fighting inflammation.

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