A nutritious, well-balanced diet is good not only for your general health, but also for your oral health. There are many factors that come into play when relating food with oral health that many may not be familiar with. One of the more well-known factors includes nutrition and diet, whereas mental health issues such as eating disorders, may be less acknowledged. Many are also unaware of the precautions or preventions needed to take to ensure that one’s oral health remains good, which in turn can reflect an individual’s overall health.

A Nutritious Factor

Nutrition is probably the most familiar link to general and oral health. The food we eat supplies the nutrients that our organs, bones, teeth, and gums need to maintain an overall healthy body. However, with the poor diet of today’s society associated with our busy lives, many are unaware of the dangers it is causing towards our oral health. Many of our foods today contain high amounts of sugars and starches which increase the production of stomach acids that can ultimately erode or weaken the tooth structure. There are a number of factors that can affect anyone at any age, regarding a person’s dietary intake.

  1. Children and teens need a balanced diet to receive enough nutrients so their teeth can develop properly and avoid any risk of serious health or dental issues later on in life.
  2. The elderly are at a higher risk of poor nutrition due to their dietary restrictions, medications, and lack of possible dexterity and joint issues. This likely contributes to dentition loss, making it even harder to attain the correct amount of nutrients through food and diet.
  3. Adults need a balanced diet to maintain their overall health and oral health.

If an individual continues with a poor diet and hygiene regimen, it can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, and sometimes even an infection causing a serious health concern. Therefore, practicing good oral hygiene and obtaining a full balanced diet will allow one to maintain an overall healthy body.

Are Eating Disorders a danger to oral health?

Many people may not be aware of how mental health issues, such as eating disorders can play a significant role in one’s oral health. Eating disorders are a psychological illness that distorts a person’s relationship with food, which can have a wide range of negative impacts on teeth, gums, and the mouth. A registered practising dietitian has observed that eating disorders are now not only focused on young females, but have also been more commonly seen in:

  • Elderly women
  • Male teens
  • Kids less than 10 years of age

Eating disorders appear with severe symptoms, such as reduced food intake called anorexia nervosa, induced vomiting called bulimia nervosa, and overeating or binge eating. Each of these will play its own part in interfering with one’s oral health. There are many factors in eating disorders that contribute to a person’s oral health, such as:

  • Increase of cavities
  • Dry mouth
  • Altered taste
  • Increase in sensitivity
  • Enlarged salivary glands
  • Teeth erosion
  • Changes in a tooth’s colour, shape and length

One of the most visible effects from the eating disorder bulimia is tooth erosion, which causes the teeth to be sensitive and slowly lose structure due to self-induced vomiting and lack of nutrients. Other eating disorders like binge-eating or anorexia nervosa can cause gum disease or complications which can lead to a greater risk towards one’s general health. Although cavities and decay vary from person to person, eating disorders are still a recognized cause of this occurrence. This is because most eating disorders reduce the flow of saliva causing dry mouth which increases the risk of cavities and other oral infections.

Preventions and Precautions

One of the biggest problems in today’s diets is the amount of sugar we consume in our diets. The average Canadian consumes about 40 kg of sugar each year. It is safe to say that not only is this harmful for our overall health, but also the biggest cause of tooth decay. The biggest culprits are often:

  • Chewy and sticky foods, such as raisins, granola bars, candy, and honey which stick to teeth
  • Sugary snacks like gum, cookies, cakes, and sweet treats which contain high amounts of cavity-causing sugars
  • Carbonated Soft Drinks; both regular pop and diet pop contain acids that wear away enamel
  • Fruity drinks and energy/ sports drinks like apple juice, fruit punch, Gatorade, and Monster contain high amounts of sugar and acid leading to tooth damage
  • Acidic foods and beverages like lemons, iced tea, salad dressings, and wine can cause rapid loss of tooth structure

The best way to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle is to commit to a healthy diet. Allowing your body to attain the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, fats, and protein is essential for both your oral health and your overall health. Incorporating healthy foods to your diet and keeping up with home oral care will allow you to achieve this. Steps to take:

  • Read food labels (check for amounts and types of sugars, amount of carbohydrates and sodium, and amount of vitamins)
  • Balance the “bad food” intake
  • Read food labels (check for amounts and types of sugars, amount of carbohydrates and sodium, and amount of vitamins)
  • Drink water between meals
  • Prepare foods in healthy ways (steamed, sautéed, baked)
  • Avoid fried food
  • Limit salt intake
  • Maintain proper oral hygiene. Brush twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, floss once a day, and scrape tongue on a daily basis
  • Do not brush teeth for at least an hour after consuming acidic foods or beverages, it will damage tooth structure. Instead, rinse with water, or chew sugar-free gum
  • Visit your oral healthcare professional on a regular basis for regular cleaning, examination, and advice personalized to your individual care
  • There are a variety of foods that are low in sugar and high in nutrition, such as:
  • Plain yogurt and hard cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Apples and mangos
  • Raw vegetables and beans
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Hummus and baba ghanouj
  • Fish and chicken

Typically people do not consider the link between nutrition and oral health except when using the old adage “eat too much sugar and your teeth will rot”. However, it has recently been proven that there is a much stronger connection between a person’s diet and their oral health than just sugar intake. It is important to take care of ourselves and be mindful of what we put into our bodies, not only for our general health but also for the benefit of our oral health.

Escarpment View Dental
1030 Kennedy Circle, Milton, ON, L9T 0J9
(905)6939-8929
https://www.escarpmentviewdental.com/