HEALTH: Nutrition and dental health

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By Dr. Matthew Weekes
July 17th, 2013 Edition

It is important to pay attention to good nutrition early in life. This is especially true for mothers since the development of teeth starts in the womb.

Good nutrition is essential for the development of teeth as early as 6 weeks in the fetal stage. Therefore during pregnancy mothers should be aware that they have the important responsibility of maximizing their children’s dental health. A mother’s diet should provide the building blocks for healthy teeth in a healthy oral environment. Diet should include adequate amounts of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C and vitamin D.

Basically the foods that are beneficial for your body are also good for your teeth. The foods that may cause the most damage are high in sugar, starch and acids. Sugar and starchy foods sustain the growth of bacteria which produce products that demineralise the teeth and can cause inflammation leading to infections in the teeth, bone and gums. Acids which are found in citrus foods also decalcify teeth and commonly cause cavities. An important fact to remember is the length of time residual amounts of these foods remain in the mouth. The longer they remain, the more damaging the effect.

A well balanced diet should include Vitamin C for good oral health, Vitamin D for preventing bone loss and maintaining general health.

When choosing your meals and snacks, it is advisable to drink plenty of water, select foods from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean sources of protein such as lean beef, skinless poultry, fish, peas, legumes, low fat or fat free dairy products.

Food supplements are beneficial in replacing the depleted minerals especially in adults including the elderly. For those with serious medical issues, you should check with your family doctor as to whether or not there could be any adverse reaction to the prescribed medication you are taking.

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