Does Diet Affect My Teeth?
Thursday November 5, 1998

Dear Dr. Mady: A close friend who tends to have a lot of dental problems said a dentist advised him that his diet is the major problem. My own diet is similar to his and I wanted to know what changes I can make to improve or retain my dental health.-S.T.

Dear S.T. -What any individual eats can make a difference in the way they feel and in their overall health. Always pick foods that will assist your body in staying healthy and strong, but realize that your dental health will also be affected.

A diet low in certain nutrients can make it more difficult for the tissues in your mouth to resist infection. Diet may be a factor in gum (periodontal) disease, which is the most prevalent cause of tooth loss these days. We do know that poor nutrition does not actually cause gum disease but it is believed that this destructive situation can progress faster in individuals that are not supplying themselves with necessary nutrients.

To be sure you are getting enough nutrition for good oral health, choose foods from the four basic food groups. They are fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy, and meat and eggs. If you snack, avoid sweets and sticky foods like candy, cakes and dried fruits. These adhere to teeth and promote tooth decay. As a replacement, healthier dental choices include plain yogurt, cheese, vegetables and nuts. If you are a gum chewer, always use the sugarless type.

One important element not included as a nutrient in regular foods is fluoride. Fluoride is necessary for strong, decay-resistant teeth. If there is not enough in your community water supply, there are alternatives. Levels can be adjusted, pharmacies sell fluoride supplements and certain bottled water companies include fluoride in their water.

If you are not sure, ask your dentist how to obtain the fluoride you need. A balanced diet including fluoride, proper oral hygiene, and sensible eating habits can considerably reduce or even prevent the onset of dental disease.

This column is reprinted with the permission of the author and The Windsor Star. "Ask the Dentist" is written by Windsor dentist (and ECDS member), Dr. David Mady Jr.. The column appears the first Thursday of each month in the Windsor Star. Readers with questions can write to "Ask The Dentist", c/o The Windsor Star, 167 Ferry St., Windsor Ontario, N9A 4M5



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