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It might seem obvious that your diet and oral health are connected; however, you may not realize how interwoven they are. By having a deeper understanding of how to apply nutritional knowledge, patients can see even more significant strides in their oral health.
Nutrition guidance for dental patients is continuing to advance as oral hygienists and dentists find emerging connections between nutrition and oral health. By incorporating a stronger understanding of nutrition, patients can further prevent oral diseases, tooth erosion, infections, and cavities.
Here are some essential elements that will help you have a modern understanding of the relationship between diet, nutrition, and their impact on your oral health.
What Is the Difference Between Diet and Nutrition?
While it is important to understand that diet and nutrition can speed up or slow down the development of oral hygiene concerns, they can be easily mistaken as interchangeable factors when they are, in fact, different.
Nutrition is defined as micronutrients and macronutrients related to an organism’s dietary needs. Nutrients can include vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Macronutrients are required in large amounts, while micronutrients are needed in small quantities.
Your diet is defined as the actual foods consumed to obtain these nutrients.
How Does Nutrition Affect Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay remains one of the most prevalent oral health concerns for both children and adults alike. The most common relationship between tooth decay and nutrition is the frequency and amount of sugary or acidic foods and drinks a patient intakes.
One example of nutrition and its relationship to tooth decay is the intake of carbohydrates that can increase the acidity of the tooth. Excessive carbohydrate intake, such as white bread, can cause demineralization and eventual tooth decay.
Meanwhile, nutrients like Vitamin D, calcium, fiber, and whole grains have been found to decrease the risk of tooth decay.
So what are some food choices that might have these helpful nutrients to lower the risk of tooth decay?
- Grain-based rice, bread, and pasta
- Vegetables and vegetable juice with no added sugar
- Beans and legumes with no added sugar
How Does Nutrition Affect Gum Disease?
Gum disease (or gingivitis) is characterized by bleeding, infected, or inflamed gum tissue. It can be related, although not necessarily caused, by dietary habits. Good nutritional habits can decrease the severity of gum disease, while bad nutritional habits can increase its severity.
For example, diets high in refined carbohydrates and sugars can decrease the healing capacity of the gums and bone, exacerbating the issues seen in gum disease.
Adequate stores of the right nutrients can have a protective effect on the gums. These proper nutrient stores can be found in:
- Omega-3 fatty acids (anti-inflammatory)
- Magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc
- Vitamin A, B, C, D, E
- Pomegranate extract and green tea (antioxidant and anti-inflammatory)
- High fruit and vegetable intake diets (anti-inflammatory)
- High fiber, low-fat diet (i.e., vegetarian)
How Does Nutrition Affect Tooth Erosion?
Tooth erosion occurs when a tooth is exposed to frequent or prolonged acid that demineralizes and erodes the tooth structure.
Alkaline basic foods or pH neutral foods can help balance the acidity of the mouth to fight tooth erosion. While are there many, some of these include:
- Limes (alkaline when in contact with the body
Want to Find Out More About Nutrition and Your Oral Health?
Dr. Chad Tomazin has been proudly serving the Inland Empire community for years, bringing passionate care and expertise to each of his patient’s dental needs.
If you are looking for more information on how your diet can affect your oral hygiene or are looking for general dentistry in a comfortable and judgment-free setting, please contact our office in Riverside, California, at (951) 686-3666 or by filling out our online form.