Dentists and other health professionals have known for years that a diet rich in vitamins and minerals can benefit oral health. Research also shows that proper nutrition is especially critical for the oral health of people with certain health problems, such as diabetes. This is important because of the growing number of people in the United States who have diabetes and other chronic conditions. Now a new study shows that there is a link between vitamin D, diabetes and gum health. This research underscores the importance of getting enough of those vitamins that benefit your oral health.
In this recent study, a team at the University of Toronto in Canada looked at the role vitamin D deficiency plays in the development of periodontitis, which is an advanced form of gum disease. Periodontitis is a gum infection that can damage the soft tissue and bone, and potentially lead to tooth loss. The scientists chose to study periodontal disease because previous research shows that people with diabetes are prone to gum disease.
Diabetes is a condition characterized by excessive sugar in the blood. Proper nutrition is important to people with diabetes, as eating the wrong kinds of food can cause blood sugar to increase to excessive levels.
The sugar causes blood vessels to thicken, which can slow the flow of nutrients to your gums and prevent the removal of waste from your gums. This can leave your gums vulnerable to infection that causes periodontitis. High blood sugar can also increase the overall sugar in your mouth – and the bacteria that cause gum disease love to eat that sugar. High blood sugar and gum disease can also damage the bones that support your teeth.
Eating a nutritious, low-sugar diet filled with the right vitamins and minerals can improve your oral health. Here are a few of those important vitamins and minerals, information about how they work to support oral health, and some of the foods you can eat to get those nutrients.
Vitamins and Minerals Important to Oral Health
Vitamin D is important to oral health because it helps the body absorb calcium, which is a mineral that strengthens teeth and bones. Vitamin D deficiency can result in soft bones in children, a condition known as rickets. Deficiency of vitamin D can also cause fragile bones in adults, which means a vitamin D deficiency might weaken the bones that hold your teeth in place.
Vitamin D can also have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effects, which means the vitamin can help combat the microbes and inflammation associated with gum disease.
Vitamin A helps maintain a healthy flow of saliva, which helps rinse food and bacteria from your mouth. This vitamin also keeps the tissues in your mouth healthy. Beef liver, melons, sweet potatoes and spinach contain vitamin A.
Vitamin B3 helps your body turn food into energy and supports your nervous system. Deficiency of vitamin B3 can cause mouth sores and bad breath. Fish and chicken are good sources of vitamin B3.
Vitamins B12 and B2
These B vitamins reduce your risk of developing painful mouth sores, known as canker sores. Red meat, chicken, fish, pork, liver, milk, cheese and yogurt are good sources of vitamin B2, while bagels, pasta, spinach and almonds can provide the vitamin B12 you need for oral health.
Vitamin C helps maintain teeth and prevents gum disease. Vitamin C deficiency can cause your gums to bleed – it can even cause you to lose teeth. Sweet potatoes, raw red peppers and oranges contain vitamin C.
Calcium is a mineral that helps keep teeth and bones strong. You can find calcium in milk and other dairy products, and in spinach, kale, okra, collards and soybeans. Sardines, salmon, perch and rainbow trout contain some calcium.
Magnesium is another mineral essential for oral health. It helps strengthen tooth enamel, which is the tough outer covering of a tooth. Weak enamel can crack and break; it can also allow bacteria to enter your tooth to cause infection, tooth decay and cavities. Magnesium strengthens that enamel to help prevent the formation of cavities. Spinach, kale, dark chocolate are good sources of magnesium.
For more information on vitamins that benefit your oral health, make an appointment with a Melbourne, Florida dentist health professional. You may find that including these nutritious foods can significantly improve your oral health and your smile.