L iving 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 teeth. In fact, in order for the body's tissues to resist infection and for teeth to remain healthy, minerals and nutrients are essential in a person's diet. The presence of too much or too little of any nutrient can have harmful effects, particularly on the mouth and teeth, and may contribute to oral diseases and infection, according to an article in the March 2007 issue of AGD Impact, the newsmagazine of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). Poor nutrition affects the entire immune system, increasing susceptibility to many common disorders. People with lowered immune systems have been shown to be at higher risk for periodontal disease. Additionally, research shows a link between oral health and systemic conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
"Deficiencies in vitamins can cause poor tissue connectivity which can allow for tissue breakdown and subsequent invasion by bacteria," says AGD President-Elect Paula Jones, DDS, FAGD and AGD spokesperson. "With the additional factor of poor oral health care, the situation can be exacerbated and exhibit as a more severe case of periodontal disease since nutritional deficiencies can compromise the immune system."
Patients can improve their oral health and reduce the risk of periodontal disease by eating a balanced diet based on the well-known food guide pyramid, which recommends eating a variety of foods from the five food groups-grain, fruit, vegetables, milk and meat.
In addition, Dr. Jones explains, "A diet rich in dark, leafy green vegetables and fresh fruits helps the body to have adequate C and B vitamins," Dr. Jones explains. "Limited amounts of sunshine help the body to produce Vitamin D, which is necessary for the absorption of calcium, which helps to build strong bones and teeth."
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.
What foods may be bad for your mouth?
Reviewed: January 2012