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Good Nutrition for Oral & Dental Health
What we eat does make a difference in oral and dental health. Poor nutrition and a lack of key nutrients increases the risk of developing gum disease with the potential for bone and tooth loss. In addition to gum disease, dietary deficiencies have been associated with loss of taste, bad breath, mouth and tongue sores. Poor dental status compromises the ability to adequately chew food. Recent studies have also shown there is a direct link between gum disease and heart disease and diabetes.
The Role of Nutrition
Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that help guard against tooth decay, bleeding & swollen gums, loose teeth and bad breath. They help to boost the immune system and keep bones and teeth strong.
Eat a variety of nutrient rich foods from all of the food groups. A balanced diet of fresh fruit, colorful vegetables, lean protein and whole grains provides essential vitamins & minerals for optimal oral health. Key in on the following nutrients:
Calcium-Rich Foods – reduced fat milk, Greek yogurt and cheese, canned salmon, dark green leafy vegetables, calcium fortified drinks and tofu. All of these are good for helping to make strong bones and teeth.
Vitamin C – citrus fruit, strawberries, cantaloupe, kiwi, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale. These promote gum health.
Phosphorous – a mineral found in eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, beans and nuts. Good for strong teeth.
Vitamin D – have your D-level checked to see if you need a supplement. Include the few foods that are rich in vitamin D: fatty fish (salmon & tuna), sardines, D-fortified dairy products and D-rich mushrooms.
Signs of Dietary Deficiencies
One of the most common signs of a vitamin deficiency is changes in the texture of the gums and burning sensations on the tongue.
Unhealthy bleeding gums may also be a sign of vitamin or mineral deficiency. Follow up with your dental health professional or health care provider.
The Bottom Line to Optimize Oral Health
- Practice good oral hygiene - brush your teeth twice a day & floss at least once a day. Rinse your mouth with water after snacking.
- See a dental health professional regularly.
- Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary beverages.
- Limit sugar & sweets (especially hard or sticky candy) and dried fruit.
- Eat a well-balance diet; it can strengthen the immune system, promote healing and contributes healthy teeth and gums. Small dietary changes can make a positive impact on oral health.
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