The Schroeder Dental Group is taking the opportunity to inform the community of how nutrition affects your oral health and how your oral health affects your total nutrition.
Nutrition specifically refers to the absorption of nutrients by your body while diet refers to your total oral intake, regardless of whether it is absorbed or not.
Speaking specifically of nutrition, nutritional imbalances increase the incidence of cavities specifically caused by bacterial infection. Adequate nutrition is critical to the formation of and maintenance of your tooth and bone structure as well as the health of your gingiva. Poorly formed teeth and reduced saliva flow allow bacteria to act much more quickly on your teeth when causing cavities.
Diet has a much greater affect on teeth and its results are much more immediate. You need three things for dental cavities to develop: a tooth you can see, cariogenic bacteria, and fermentable carbohydrates (sugar and starches primarily) to feed the bacteria. If you have natural teeth, regardless of any restorations like fillings and crowns, these are susceptible teeth.
Fermentable carbohydrates feed the bacteria that cause cavities. Sugar is the most common form of fermentable carbohydrates that you encounter. Other sources are grains, starches, and the complex carbohydrates of fruits and vegetables. An enzyme in your saliva, called amylase, breaks these more complex carbohydrates down into sugar in your mouth as you chew. Amylase works faster on cooked foods because the cooking begins some of the breakdown process even before you start eating it. Because of amylase, most carbohydrates will produce some sugar in your mouth.
When it comes to your teeth, it is not how much carbohydrate you eat; it is how much time it is in your mouth. The bacteria that causes cavities can only use a small amount of sugar at a time. Even if you give the bacteria a whole lot of sugar at a time, the bacteria still only uses a little bit of it. On the other hand, having small amounts of sugar throughout the day feeds the bacteria each time, increasing the bacteria’s ability to dissolve your tooth structure.
In order to optimize the health of your teeth, you must eat the same foods that are good for the rest of your body: rich vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy, and lean protein with limited saturated and trans fat and limited added sugar. A few of the key nutrients that help to keep your mouth healthy are as follows:
• Calcium and Vitamin D – calcium is the main mineral of your tooth and bone structure. Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium. Calcium is available in dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt) as well as dark leafy greens and beans.
• Vitamin B – promotes healthy gum tissue and nerves. It is found in whole grains and dark, leafy greens.
• Vitamin K – promotes healthy gums and helps your body control bleeding. It is found in dark leafy greens.
• Vitamin C – prevents scurvy, which causes severe bleeding of the gums. It is readily available in citrus fruits.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call the Schroeder Dental Group at 407-886-1611. The office is conveniently located at 200 N. Park Avenue, Suite A, in Apopka.