Dental health is a great indicator of overall health. The state of gums and teeth can deteriorate if we don’t take care of them; there is a risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and even bone loss. Sometimes, even systemic diseases can be diagnosed due to the state of dental health.
For instance, cardiovascular diseases, celiac disease, sinus infections, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel diseases, diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease and alcoholism can all be diagnosed through the state of our teeth.
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Why dental health is important?
Cavities and gum diseases (periodontal diseases) can result from improper dental care. Over the age of thirty, more than half of American adults have some sort of periodontal disease. If caught at an early stage by a dentist, gingivitis or gum tissue inflammation can be easily reversed; but if left untreated, it can lead to ‘pockets’—little spaces between the gums and teeth. These pockets are ideal sites for bacterial colonization and eventually, the infection will occur leading to permanent destruction of tissues.
Majority of adults and school children also suffer from tooth cavities. Cavities are holes in the outermost layer of the tooth called enamel, which forms due to build-up of plaque. Plaque is a sticky layer composed mostly of bacteria. Plaque builds up when bacteria break down sugar and carbohydrates that we eat, and in doing so releases acids that eat away at the teeth. When they become bigger, these cavities can reach the nerve and cause pain. Thus, tooth cavities should be treated as soon as possible.
Nutrition and oral health:
Oral health can be improved greatly if we are careful about what we eat. Because our mucosal cells regenerate every three to seven days, intake of vitamins and minerals can greatly improve periodontal health. There is a long list of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for the repair and regeneration of dental structures. Infact, any mineral or vitamin deficiency can be evident in poor regeneration of mucosa.
Some nutrients like proteins help in the mucosal and connective tissue development of gums, whereas others like calcium and phosphorous are essential for tooth structure and the re-mineralization of enamel. Iron, folate and vitamin c help in the immune function and connective tissue development.
A lack of folate is associated with periodontal disease; whereas a lack of vitamin C is associated with slow collagen maturation and bleeding from gums. Even omega-3-fatty acid consumption is important to control the inflammatory process of the oral cavity as well as immune function.
What foods are good for dental health?
Here is a list of nutrients that can positively impact your dental health. Be sure to inculcate these nutritious elements in your diet:
- Probiotics: Probiotics are composed of healthy bacteria that are normally present in our body. Due to their presence, other micro-organisms like disease-causing bacteria, fungi and viruses cannot flourish. Intake of probiotics like fermented dairy can thus help decrease plaque formation and gingivitis.
- Drink lots of water: It may not seem like an important enough nutritional element, but consumptions of water instead of sugary carbonated drinks can go a long way in the prevention of cavity formation and gingivitis. For those living in developed countries like the US, sodas are the number one source of added sugars that can eventually lead to cavity formation. The American Dental Association recommends drinking lots of water daily in lieu of carbonated drinks.
- Cranberries: Berries such as cranberries and other fruits rich in anthocyanins (blueberries, eggplants, black rice, red cabbage) can help in preventing attachment of bacteria to the teeth. Certain bacteria cling to the teeth by forming biofilms; the anthocyanins in the berries and fruits prevent this, thus preventing colonization of bacteria. Infact, even the use of cranberry fruit extract infused mouth wash can help in the prevention of dental disease.
- Green tea: Polyphenols in the green tea are known reducers of bacteria and their toxic products in the mouth. Moreover, green tea is rich in teeth strengthening components such as fluoride.
- Whole foods: Nutrients from whole foods are beneficial not only for overall body health but also the health of the gums.
- Chewing gum with pycnogenol: Pine bark or sap chewing gums have plaque reducing effects. They can also reduce the incidence of bleeding gums.
- Ginger: Has shown to inhibit the growth of pathogens in the oral cavity that results in periodontal diseases in test tubes.
- Garlic: Not only is it good for cardiovascular health but taking raw garlic also helps to improve oral hygiene.
- Ginseng: Herbs like ginseng can fight disease-producing bacteria in the mouth.
- Fluoride: This mineral helps to prevent decalcification and improve calcium absorption. Some studies say that getting enough fluoride is even more important than reducing sugar intake to prevent cavities.
Food plays a very important role in the prevention of oral diseases and the improvement of dental hygiene.
Get more information about how to improve your oral health from a registered dental practitioner and design a healthy menu for yourself and your family to mitigate your risk of dental disease; book an appointment with a top dentist in Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.