Recently I have worked with many women, in all walks of life in a variety of ages, all complaining of hypersensitive and swollen gums. Though they all come in regularly for their 6-month dental checkups and cleaning, it made me take notice and try to discover what the problem was. Diet was not first on my mind, but as I started weeding out the usual causes of unhappy gums (Not flossing, not brushing before bedtime, etc.), I realized it was what my patients were (and not were) putting in their bodies that was causing the problem.
Diet plays a major role in dental health
Living in a fast-paced society where fast food seems to dominate the food chain can mean a great deal for oral health—and poor food choices can even have a negative effect on the mouth. In fact, for the body’s tissues to resist infection and for teeth and gums to remain healthy mineral and nutrients are essential in a person’s diet.
Poor nutrition affects the entire the immune system, increasing susceptibility to many common disorders. People with lowered immune systems have been shown to be at a higher risk for periodontal disease. Additionally, research shows a link between oral health care, the situation can be exacerbated and exhibit as a more severe case of periodontal disease.
A diet rich in dark, leafy green vegetables and fresh fruits helps the body to have adequate BC vitamins. Eating a variety of foods as part of a well-balanced diet may not only improve dental health, but increasing fiber and vitamin intake may reduce the risk of other diseases.
Foods that may be harmful to your health
- Carbohydrates: Chips, bread, pasta, or crackers
- Sticky, Chewy foods: Raisins, granola bars, jelly beans, caramel, toffee, and honey
- Sugary snacks: Cookies, cakes, or other desserts
- Carbonated soft drinks: Regular AND diet sodas
- Fruit or vegetable juices: These beverages tend to be high in natural sugar
Eating on the run is a dental health hazard
We all have relied one quick meal in the form of “nutrition” bars and carbonated beverages to help keep us alert and on schedule. However, this can leave us with permanent damage to oral and overall health. Loss of tooth enamel from erosion from sipping carbonated beverages all day can weaken tooth structure that cannot be reversed naturally. Dental enamel is the thin, outer layer of hard tissue that helps maintain the tooth’s structure and shape while protecting it from decay.
Health facts specific to women
Women are 80% more likely to acquire osteoporosis than men. Carbonated beverages (sodas, LaCroix, sparkling drinks), due to the phosphoric, citric, tartaric, and carbonic acids, leach out nutrients in the bone. If nutrient-packed calories essential to fueling and strengthening teeth and bones are not being consumed consistently, the rate for osteoporosis, let alone erode teeth and decay, will defiantly increase.
The phosphoric acid in most regular and diet colas limit calcium absorption and has a direct influence on bone density. By age 16, girls have accumulated 9to 97% of their bone mass, making adequate calcium intake vital. However, national statistics show only 19% of girls age 9to 19 are getting the recommended 1,300 milligrams of calcium a day.
Research also confirms a direct link between soft drink consumption and bone fractures in teenage girls. “These girls are at extreme risk of developing osteoporosis, already exhibiting symptoms of this disease in their teen years,” says Dr. Jane Soman author of a study that appears in the January/February 2003 issue of General Dentistry, the clinical, peer-reviewed journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGID). “Early education on the importance of calcium consumption is key to reversing the trend.”
Diet and Nutrition Tips
- Only have fruit juices or sodas with a meal.
- Chew sugarless gum after a meal!
- Take a multivitamin daily.