Nutrition and Oral Health
The proliferation of foods high in calories, fat, and salt, and low in nutritional content such as that found in fast food restaurants and vending machines has created a "toxic" food environment in many industrialized countries, and this has had an important impact on oral health. Oral bacteria have the ability to synthesize the acids that dissolve tooth enamel from many different types of foods, not just sugar. Frequency of eating is a major factor related to poor oral health in infants, as well as children and adults. Baby bottle tooth decay, also called nursing bottle carries, is a term that refers to the caries formed when an infant is routinely put to sleep with a bottle. Breastfeeding caries is a condition associated with the constant exposure of an infant's oral environment to breast milk, while pacifier caries occurs when a pacifier is dipped in honey prior to inserting the pacifier into an infant's mouth.
Both childhood and adult obesity are on the rise, and they have reached epidemic proportions in some countries. Obesity is traditionally associated with increased rates of non-insulin-dependent diabetes; elevations in blood pressure; and elevated serum glucose, blood cholesterol, and triglycerides (blood fat) but it is also associated with decreased oral health status. For example, the number of servings of fruit juices and soft drinks or other related high acidity and sugar drinks ingested each Oral disease like gingivitis and periodontitis may result from over nutrition. When food consumption is excessive, or when the foods consumed is frequently sugary or acidic, the enamel on teeth can dissolve and gums can be infected.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has warned parents about obesity in children, but also increased caries in the over use of fruit juices in children diets.
Although diet soft drinks do not contain sugar, they do contain both carbonic and phosphoric acids and can directly destroy enamel, particularly if the teeth are periodically exposed to a diet drink throughout the day. The direct demineralization of tooth enamel by regular and diet soft drinks has similarities to the demineralization of tooth enamel common in anorexia nervosa, in which forced regurgitation of food exposes lingual tooth surfaces (the side of the tooth facing the tongue) to stomach acids. In the case of enamel erosion produced by soft drinks and juices, and other related high acidity and sugar drinks effects are usually seen on all the tooth surfaces.
FLUORIDE AND ORAL HEALTH
No discussion of nutrition and oral health would be complete without mentioning the role of the micronutrient fluoride. The addition of fluoride to the public drinking water supply is rated as one of the most effective preventive public health measures ever undertaken. Fluoride reduces dental caries by several different mechanisms. The fluoride ion may be integrated into enamel, making it moirÃ© resistant to decay. In addition, fluoride may inhibit oral microbial metabolism, lowering the production of organic acids.
The relationship of nutrition to oral health includes much more than a simple focus on sugar's relationship to caries. It includes factors such as an individual's overall dietary patterns, exposure to fluoride, and a person's systemic health.
NUTRITION TIPS FOR PARENTS
- Do not put infant or toddler to bed with a bottle or sippy cup which contains juice or milk. Only water should be in the container. In addition, do not let your youngster drink or sip juice throughout the day. Frequent use of a sippy cup containing juice is likely to cause dental caries. Put only water in sippy cups!!!!
- Keep only healthy foods in the house. Buy "Whole-Wheat" products and bread. Avid buying sweet snacks or soda, as these are very destructive to teeth. Do not buy sticky, sweet foods or snacks and candy, raisins and fruit roll-ups.
- Teach your children the importance of healthy eating habits. Do not let sugars dominate your child's diet!!!!!
- Make healthy foods fun by providing a variety of healthy snacks, fruit and vegetables. Snacking on cheese can help prevent tooth decay. Mild or Sharp Cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Swiss cheese are best for this purpose.
- Let your children know that soda and junk food causes cavities. Offer your children milk or water instead of juice. Teenage girls especially should drink plenty of milk and avoid soda to prevent osteoporosis in the bones.
- Help your young child brush after every meal.
THESE NUTRIENTS ARE KEY FOR A HEALTHY MOUTH
- PROTEIN helps teeth form. Kids who don't get enough protein and are malnourished have a higher risk for cavities. Choose lean sources of protein like fish, chicken and beans. These foods are also high in iron, magnesium and zinc, which help to build teeth and bones.
- CALCIUM AND VITAMIN D strengthen teeth and bones. Low-fat and nonfat dairy products are high in both nutrients. Calcium can also be found in dark leafy greens and beans.
- VITAMIN A helps tooth and enamel form. Orange fruits and vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A.
- VITAMIN B helps keeps gum tissue healthy. Whole-grain breads and cereals and green leafy vegetables contain vitamin B.
- VITAMIN C helps maintain gums and keeps soft tissue healthy. It prevents scurvy that is a connective tissue disease, which starts the break down of collagen which is the building block of gum tissue and other tissues in the body. Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C.
- VITAMIN K keeps gums healthy and controls bleeding. Dark leafy greens are good sources of vitamin K.
- FLUORIDE protects tooth enamel, which makes it harder to break down. This lowers the risk of cavities. Tap water and toothpaste usually contain fluoride. If you drink only bottle water, ask your dentist about a fluoride supplement