Monday May 19 2014

The connection between food and your dental health

By Richard Kabanda

Dentists have long cautioned that poor nutrition can lead to all kinds of health issues, including oral health problems such as gum disease and cavities. Nutrition is an integral component of oral health.

In addition, a person’s overall health can be affected by tooth loss. It should be noted that declining periodontal health can lead to diminished dietary quality because of lack of essential nutrients in a person’s diet.

In order to keep a good dental health in relation to foods, the following should be earmarked;
• Eating a healthy balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and low fat dairy products and whole grains that provide essential nutrients for optimum oral health and overall health.
• Fruits and vegetables. Combined, these should be half of what you eat every day.
• Grains. Make sure at least half of the grains you eat are whole grains, such as whole wheat bread.
• Dairy. Choose low fat or fat-free dairy foods.
• Proteins. Make protein choices, such as lean beef, skinless poultry and fish. Try and vary your protein choices to include eggs, beans, peas and legumes.
• Practice good oral hygiene and seek regular oral healthcare.

Knowing the connection between oral and nutrition health, the importance of dietetics or nutritionists and dental health-care professionals to provide screening, education and referrals as part of comprehensive patient care, is mandatory for every visit so that the burden of tooth decay is controlled.

Remember, eating a balanced and nutritious diet is essential to healthy living. Studies show that people who have lost teeth don’t eat as many fruits or vegetables and tend to have less nutritious diets overall.

Since your mouth is your body’s initial point of contact with nutrients consumed, what you put into it impacts not only your general health but also the health of your teeth and gums. If your nutrition is poor, the first signs often show up in your oral health.

In addition, visiting a dentist twice a year for checkups and cleaning will help your dentist monitor your oral health and recommend dietary changes.

The writer is a dentist