Our mouth is one of the most overlooked parts of our body. Like any other body part, our mouth also requires proper nutrition to function healthily.
Often people wonder what type of nutrition is essential to maintain oral health.
Frequent intake of sugar-containing food and drinks is the sole reason for causing dental caries, especially in young children.
Nutritional balance should be based on the reduction of in-between meal snacking with sugar-containing food. In addition to this, incorporation of healthy nuts and fruits help to maintain oral health and well-being of a patient.
A nutrition survey done in 2007 stated that around 48% of the population snack between meals. Furthermore, almost 90% of the snacks eaten between the meals contained refined sugar.
A good diet with proper proportions of proteins, vitamins, and minerals plays a crucial role in strengthening the gums and teeth.
In this article, we have listed out the important vitamins essential to maintain healthy gums and teeth.
How does nutrition affect your oral health?
A well-balanced diet provides a good proportion of all the essential elements required to maintain a healthy mouth and body.
Poor nutrition or a diet that contains increased proportions of carbohydrates and sugar makes the mouth susceptible to oral infections.
Starchy diet is a prime source for plaque accumulation. Oral bacteria feed on the plaque to release bacterial acids that cause tooth decay. This vicious cycle leads to the problems of tooth decay, periodontal disease and tooth loss in such patients. (1)
A national oral health survey revealed that 23% of eight-year-olds and 40% of fifteen-year-olds consume sweet snacks and drinks between meals for at least two to three times a day. The effects on oral health in such children are adverse.
Almost all the food products like milk, vegetables, and fruits that are essential for a healthy diet contain some amount of sugar. The problem arises when an additional amount of refined sugar is consumed in the form of snack meals.
To maintain good health of your mouth and body, reduce the amount of food that is rich in carbohydrates and contain artificial sugar. Look at the labels of food products to check the nutritional value before buying it.
Essential minerals & vitamins that can maintain healthy gums and teeth
Vitamins act as nutritional building blocks that are essential for dental health. Here is a list of 5 essential vitamins that are required to keep your mouth healthy.
Calcium is one of the most abundant minerals present in our body. It helps in building and strengthening the teeth and bones. (2)
Calcium deficiency causes weakening of bones and teeth. It further makes them brittle and prone to fracture.
The most common source of calcium is found in milk products. Milk and yogurt contain a specific type of calcium which is easily absorbed by the body on ingestion. Apart from milk products, canned salmon and sardines also provide the right amount of calcium.
People who follow a vegan diet can obtain their calcium requirements from green leafy vegetables, fortified cereals, and blackstrap molasses.
Another essential mineral for good oral health is phosphorus. Studies have shown that phosphorus increases the rate of calcium absorption in the body. Phosphorus also plays a vital role in repairing the body’s tissues.
Protein-rich food like meat, egg, legumes, nuts and dairy products contain the right amount of phosphorus. Whole grain and dried fruits also provide dietary phosphorus.
Interesting fact about vitamin A is that it helps in strengthening eyesight as well as the tissues of the mouth. Vitamin A improves salivary flow in the mouth and aids in the formation of healthy gums and mucous membrane. (3)
Vitamin A is usually found in two forms –
- Vitamin A which can be obtained from meat, poultry and dairy products
- Provitamin A which is found in fruits and vegetables. When ingested, the provitamin A is turned into its active form by the body.
Vitamin C is an essential compound required to strengthen the connective tissues of the gums. It maintains the ability of the gums to hold the teeth firmly in position. Moreover, vitamin C allows proper healing of tissues after surgery.
Deficiency of vitamin C often causes bleeding gums.
A rich source of vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, berries, Brussel sprouts, and spinach.
Vitamin D plays a vital role in allowing calcium absorption in the intestine. Vitamin D also helps to move the absorbed calcium into the bloodstream so that it reaches the teeth and bones. (4)
A deficiency of vitamin D may cause leaching out of calcium from the bones.
Eggs, fish, milk, cheese, and cereals contain a good amount of vitamin D.
When should you take vitamins?
Daily intake of vitamins varies from person to person. Some people obtain an adequate amount of all the essential nutrients from their diet.
While others may need to take vitamin supplements to meet the daily dietary requirements. (5)
Vitamins are necessary for healthy gums and teeth. You can consult your dentist to discuss your oral health and specific vitamin requirements.
A dentist will also help you to chart down a diet plan for you and add any vitamin supplements to fit your routine.
Take away message
A healthy body requires a healthy diet to function properly. One of the best ways to take care of your oral health and body is by eating nutritious food.
If you are not meeting your daily health requirement, you can add dietary supplements into your routine.
Some supplements may sometimes interfere with prescription medications. Consult your dentist or physician before switching your diet or adding new dietary supplements.
While a nutritious, balanced diet helps to maintain the health of your gums and teeth, regular dental visits are equally essential.
Now that you’ve read this article, it is time to take some actions towards creating a healthy mouth and body.