Nutrition in Dentistry
By: Dr. Andrea Joy Smith, DDS
Sacramento, CA — Dentists routinely interview and counsel patients about their diet and eating habits, especially those with a high DMFT index. Epidemiologists use the DMFT index, which counts and records the number of Decayed, Missing and Filled Teeth, as the key measure of an individual’s caries (tooth decay) experience.1 Typical questions dentists ask are: How often do you consume foods high in sugar? Do you drink soft drinks or other fluids high in sugar very often? How much candy or sticky high sugar containing foods do you eat? Do you normally consume high sugar foods with meals or in between meals? These questions allow the dentist to gain insight into the dietary factors that led to the amount of tooth decay observed during the dental examination.
The dentist then proceeds to counsel patients to eat fewer sugary foods, as foods high in sugar promote tooth decay.
Instead, a diet consisting of fiber rich foods, high-quality proteins and whole grains promote dental health. Fresh foods contain valuable nutrients and vitamins crucial to the body’s response to disease and its healing response. Natural sugars from fresh fruit and vegetables are health promoting, rather than sugars found in processed foods and beverages. The patients are further counseled on the frequency with which sugary foods should be eaten. Foods high in sugar should be eaten (if they must) with meals rather than between meals to reduce the frequency of sugar exposure. Multiple frequent exposures to sugar can increase the risk of dental disease. And most importantly, dentists advise patients to brush and floss their teeth immediately after consuming a food high in sugar. These nutritional guidelines decrease the risk of the onset of dental disease.
Once the disease process has begun, it is important to stop the progression of the disease and more importantly heal from the disease. A well-balanced healthy diet will promote the healing process. However, healing from the disease often involves dental surgery to correct problems and to eliminate the disease. The general health and nutrition of the patient effects the patient’s post-surgical healing response. In fact, nutrition has proven to be just as important as good surgical technique.
The list of routine questions and counseling shifts to questions related to the consumption of specific nutrients. These questions are relevant considering studies that show the correlation between specific nutrients and the healing response.
The body’s inflammatory response to the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth, is the major factor in periodontal disease. The body’s inflammatory response causes destruction of the tissues supporting the teeth. Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) mediate the inflammatory response. Antioxidants can help to combat the destruction caused by the ROS mediators. “Major extracellular antioxidants include vitamin C (ascorbate), Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) …” 3, according to the researchers studying inflammation mediators, and thereby combat inflammation.
In a study conducted at the University of Hong Kong2, it was concluded that a dose of Vitamin B Complex (VBC) was more effective at relieving chronic TMD, (Temporal Mandibular Disease) related pain, as indicated by their pain intensity measure, compared to a placebo.
Calcium, Vitamins A, C and D are minerals important to a patient’s ability to heal from dental surgery as well as to maintain good general health. Here’s what we know: “Vitamin D has also been shown to play an important role in bone mineral density. It promotes adequate calcium absorption in the intestines and maintains adequate levels of calcium and phosphate in the body for bone mineralization. This is especially important during dental implant osseointegration. Vitamins A and C are important to keeping gums healthy and building enamel.”4
- Diet and Dental Disease
Elsevier Interactive Patient Education © 20 18 Elsevier Inc. Last revised: June 27, 2018.
- Effectiveness of vitamin b complexin reducing chronic temporomandibular joint disorder pain — double blind randomized clinical trial J.R. Rajaran ∗, W.S. Choi The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
- Nutrition, Inflammation, and Periodontal Disease
Christine S. Ritchie, MD, MSPH and Denis F. Kinane, BDS, FDS RCPS, FDS RCS, PhD From the Division of General Internal Medicine, Geriatrics and Health Policy, and the School of Dentistry, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA; and the Louisville VA Medical Center, Louisville Kentucky, USA
- Nutrition for Better Healing Sanda Moldovan, DDS, MS, CNS November 2018 RN – Expires November 30th, 2021 Inside
Dr. Andrea Joy Smith has been practicing dentistry for over 25 years. She attended the University of California Los Angeles in 1985, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Dr. Smith completed her dental school education at the University of California San Francisco in 1994, receiving two degrees, Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) and Bachelor of Science Dental Science. Her general dental practice in Sacramento, California, Dr. Andrea Joy Smith Family Dentistry, Mini Dental Implant Center of America, focuses on the placement of Mini Dental Implants. She is the Vice President of the International Academy of Mini Dental Implants, a Lecturer for Shatkin, the world’s first largest Mini Dental Implant Company, and Instructor in the Dental Division of the Aesthetic Learning Center are affiliations. Dr. Smith is a member of the American Dental Association and the California Dental Association.