Brushing and flossing may be the keys to maintaining great oral hygiene, but certain essential vitamins and minerals can also do wonders for your dental health. Want healthy teeth and gums? Make sure you include the following key ingredients such as fluoride, minerals and supplements in your diet!
The Effects of Malnutrition On Your Oral Health
Nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition can lead to a range of dental problems. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, nutrient deficiencies can cause and worsen oral conditions, including tooth loss and the reduced ability to healing tissues.
What are the effects of malnutrition on your teeth and oral structures?
- Compromised tooth integrity
- Premature tooth loss
- Delayed wound healing
- Bleeding gums
- Inflammation of the tongue
- Cracked lips
- Bad breath
- Loss of taste
- Delayed tooth eruption in children
But can consuming the right vitamins through your diet and supplements promote healthy teeth and gums? A study undertaken at Loma Linda University, California, says yes. Their research team could prove that nutritional supplements are significant in fighting periodontal disease.
But why supplements? Well, theoretically, you should be able to take in more than enough vitamins and minerals through a healthy, well-balanced diet. But, unfortunately, as we age, our ability to absorb sufficient nutrients for optimal health declines.
So we need to ensure that our diets are not only high in fruits, nuts and veggies but add the right supplements to our regimen, too. To get you started on your path to better dental health, here are four essential vitamins and minerals for teeth and gum health, including calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus and fluoride.
Vitamins And Minerals to Improve Your Oral Health
Your teeth are going through a lot day in, day out: Exposed to acidic coffee, crunchy foods and oftentimes tonnes of sugar, their protective outer layer, the tooth enamel, can experience a significant amount of wear and tear.
As one of the minerals commonly known to be beneficial for both our bones and teeth, Calcium helps to maintain, repair and build bone structures and tooth enamel. As such, it also keeps the jaw bone healthy and strong to provide a good base for your teeth.
Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency:
- Numbness around the mouth
- Numbness in the hands or feet
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weak or brittle nails
- Tooth decay
- Osteoporosis symptoms (back pain, stooped posture)
Please note that whilst osteoporosis is more likely to occur in people with a low calcium intake, it does not have one single cause. Concerning your dental health, osteoporosis can be detrimental as it causes the jawbone to lose density and become weak. As a result, your teeth can loosen and dentures or implants may become ill-fitted and uncomfortable.
Without sufficient levels of calcium in your diet, the tooth enamel will start to break down, exposing your teeth to the open-air – making them vulnerable to all the foods and drinks you may consume and the bacteria that flourish as a result.
Following the advice of the American Dental Association (ADA), you need to ensure an intake of 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day to fight off erosions or cavities and strengthen your tooth enamel. You may choose to add a calcium supplement to your diet but shouldn’t forget about the following calcium-rich foods either.
What to eat:
- Brown rice
You might be surprised to hear this, but Vitamin D is a major contributor to your dental health, too. You can floss and brush all you want, but oftentimes, the missing puzzle piece is a well-balanced diet that includes calcium-rich foods and vitamin D – otherwise known as the “sunshine vitamin”.
Here’s the thing: We know that vitamin D is a hormone produced in our bodies when sunlight hits the skin. Vitamin D helps your body absorb the calcium you consume with foods and supplements, and is therefore crucial for building healthy bones and teeth.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency:
- A weakened immune system
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Slow wound healing
- Bone loss
- Hair Loss
- Muscle aches and pains
Unfortunately, ultraviolet radiation (UV) is understood to be the best natural source of activating vitamin D – but also the main cause of skin cancer. Living in Australia, it can therefore be wise to add a vitamin D supplement to your diet instead. The same holds true for those of us with a darker complexion: Higher amounts of melanin, the natural skin pigment, reduce our bodies ability to produce vitamin C.
Certain foods are rich in vitamin D and a dietary change in combination with a vitamin D supplement can ensure you’re keeping your levels up.
What to eat:
- Dairy products from pasture-raised animals
- Fatty fish
- Some cereals
Second to calcium, phosphorus is one of the most plentiful minerals in our bodies. Whilst it is less well known, it is equally important and covers a lot of functions from repairing tissues to filtering out waste in the kidneys. Phosphorus also supports our calcium intake and as such, helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth.
Here’s what to eat to up your phosphorus intake:
- Carbonated drinks (phosphoric acid is used to produce the carbonation)
- Whole grains bread and cereal
- Dried fruits
- Meat and poultry
- Milk and other dairy products
And What About Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that can be found in bones and teeth but also exists in our groundwater, soil and plants. Known to strengthen the tooth enamel, prevent cavities and the growth of harmful bacteria, fluoride provides many benefits to your oral health.
Every time you consume food or drinks, the enzymes and bacteria in the mouth create acid that draws out the minerals in your teeth and if left alone, break down the tooth enamel. Fluoride repairs the enamel and prevents tooth decay.
How does fluoride fight decay?
- Rebuilds and remineralises weakened tooth enamel
- Slows down the loss of minerals from tooth enamel
- Reverses early signs of tooth decay
- Prevents the growth of harmful oral bacteria
However, many myths and concerns exist around fluoride consumption. In truth, the equation is very simple: Great oral hygiene in combination with a healthy, well-balanced diet and consistent fluoride intake, are the keys to good oral health.
Many cities fluoridate drinking water supplies to reach a level that can help to reduce tooth decay. In Australia, water fluoridation was first introduced in 1950. Brisbane was the last city to introduce water fluoridation in 2008. Today, artificially fluoridated drinking water is provided for 70 per cent of the population in all states and territories.
The amount of fluoride that can be added to drinking water in Queensland is set in the Water Fluoridation Regulation 2008 and ranges from 0.6 parts per million (ppm) to 0.8 ppm, depending on location. This is equivalent to less than one drop of fluoride diluted into 50 litres of water.
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The Bottom Line
If you’re concerned about your vitamin and mineral intake, adding a supplement to your diet or using fluoridated toothpaste is always a good idea. Ask your trusted dentist for advice if you’re unsure about the effects of your diet on your dental health.
The friendly team at Admire Dentistry offers comprehensive dental treatments in a trusting and comfortable environment and can answer all your questions surrounding dental supplements, diet and lifestyle choices that affect your dental health.
Book your appointment today. We’re looking forward to meeting you!