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Oral Health and Nutrition
Oral Health and Nutrition
Your oral tissues comprise of gums, chewing muscles and teeth. These oral tissues require good nutrition just like other living tissues in your body. If you neglect your nutritional requirements, then you risk contracting nutrient-deficiency diseases. Your diet affects each living tissue in your body, so by adopting a healthy, balanced diet, you already improve the health of your teeth.
What Affects your Oral Health and Nutrition?
Sugar! Sugar is highly responsible for dental cavities and other dental problems such as periodontal disease and tooth decay. In populations where sugar consumption is highest, there are a larger number of people with decayed or damaged teeth.
Sugar—sucrose—greatly affects your oral health.
Sucrose provides energy and building blocks for plaque build-up on your tooth surfaces. When you digest anything you consume, sucrose releases glucose which can be metabolized to generate organic acids.
Other factors that affect your oral health include how often you eat or drink, fluoride content of water and toothpaste, and the acidity content of drinks you can consume such as soft drinks.
If you have poor oral health, then you will most likely experience difficult eating patterns such as painful chewing.
Older patients who have lost their teeth and have had a stroke experience difficulty chewing and swallowing, increasing their chances of facing nutritional deficiency.
Malnutrition and Oral Health
Under-nutrition predominantly affects third-world countries where there is a limited supply of nutrient-rich foods. Some third-world nations also lack particular nutrients such as vitamin C, resulting in poor oral health.
A lack of vitamins may result in dental diseases. If you lack vitamin C in your diet, you could experience petechiae—small, red spots in your oral cavity or other areas in your body. Vitamin B deficiency could result in glossitis—a swollen tongue.
While infrequent, calcium-deficiency could cause hypoplastic enamel which is very similar to osteoporosis.
Excess Nutrition and Oral Health
Foods that contain lots of fat, calories and sugar and are low in nutritional value have caused much health concern in the general public and medical community. Such foods have affected oral health.
Overeating affects infants, children and adults which could result in poor oral health. Baby bottle tooth decay refers to the overuse of a baby bottle during sleep which encourages bacterial growth in the oral cavity. The frequent use of a baby bottle during sleep increases the chance of tooth decay in infants.
With the fast food craze, child and adult obesity have significantly increased over the years. In fact, obesity is a common cause of death in some countries—as common as smoking-related diseases.
Obesity is linked with increased blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood fat.
Oral health dwindles with overeating. When you eat too much, your enamel may dissolve, resulting in gum infection. Periodontitis, therefore, has been known to occur from overeating.
Parents have been known to give their children too much fruit juices. Diet soft drinks have also been responsible for affecting oral health. Even though they do not contain sugar, they possess phosphoric and carbonic acids that deteriorate tooth enamel.
Some Tips for Infant Dental Care
1) After feeding your child, wipe his or her teeth and gums using a warm washcloth/
2) Fill your child’s bottle with water instead of milk and juice during nap time or bed time.
3) When your child’s first tooth emerges, brush his or her teeth with a soft toothbrush, using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
How does Fluoride affect your Oral Health?
Fluoride content in drinking water has been a crucial health issue for years. As an effective method of reducing dental caries, fluoride content fuses into enamel, ensuring more resistance to tooth decay.
Saliva and Oral Health
Saliva plays a significant role in your oral health. It protects your soft tissues and encourages a resistance of dental caries. Saliva contains calcium and phosphorous, minerals that preserve the tooth enamel. Saliva also neutralizes the acid generated by bacteria.
Moreover, saliva plays a huge role in washing away food particles in the mouth, decreasing the chance of plaque build-up.
What to Consider
There are many ways you can improve your nutritional habits, and consequently, your oral healths.
1) Eat a balanced diet full of nutrients. This includes eating 5-10 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains.
2) Avoid refined sugars.
3) Drink plenty of water.
4) Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
5) Floss regularly.
6) Make regular dental visits.