Have you ever heard the expression, “you are what you eat?” While this old saying may not be exactly true, it does bring up a good point: what you eat directly affects your overall health, including your oral health. Improving your diet can help decrease your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It can also help to decrease your risk of developing two of the most common oral diseases: dental caries (cavities) and periodontal (gum) disease.
Both tooth decay and periodontal disease can occur when the teeth and gum tissues are destroyed by acid products resulting from oral bacteria. There are certain foods that have been linked to higher levels of cavity-causing bacteria. Your dentist can inform you of which foods and food combinations cause high levels of this harmful bacteria. Proper brushing and flossing after meals can also help to cut down on the risks associated with these foods.
While poor nutrition has not been proven to cause gum disease, many medical scientists believe that the disease progresses and is more severe in patients whose diets do not contain the necessary nutrients. It has been proven that poor nutrition negatively affects the entire immune system. A weakened immune system increases your susceptibility to many disorders, including periodontal disease.
To protect your overall health and your oral health, it is important to eat a well-balanced diet containing a wide variety of foods, eaten in moderation. A nutritionist or your physician can help evaluate your diet and detect any vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies that may be adversely affecting your health. He or she may recommend dietary changes or may prescribe supplements to help you get the vitamins and minerals your body needs to obtain optimal health.
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