The A, B, C’s of Oral Health

Food IS Medicine

What if we, in the dental profession, are doing dental healthcare all wrong? We continue to scale, polish, and lecture about oral hygiene, and our patients do their best to comply. Yet, dental disease is still at epidemic levels with at least 40% of the population having gum disease. By age 34, 80% of folks have had at least one cavity.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Rita Mae Brown

I had a patient that had uncontrolled bone loss, red, bleeding tissues, and was losing teeth. She would see me every three months and I would give her my best recommendations, to no avail. Suddenly, one appointment she completely surprised me. Her gums were completely different- pink, tight, and little bleeding. She had completely changed her diet. She no longer ate carbohydrates and sugar, and it made all the difference for her oral health. That was an “ah-ha moment” for me. I knew I needed to look at dental health differently.

Maybe instead of working so hard to remove all the plaque and tartar during our dental hygiene recare appointments, instead we looked at the food fueling our cells, and investigate how to have a healthy microbiome. Most of our food is devoid of the nutrients our bodies need. Our soil is overfarmed, and our foods are full of chemicals. Too much of our food is over-processed and ultra-processed. Did you know the color additive ingredient titanium dioxide (or silicone dioxide or aluminum dioxide) contains lead, arsenic, and mercury? How can our bodies be healthy when our foods are full of chemicals that we know are hurtful to our cells?

Our bodies need good fuel for our cells.

Convience foods are high in sugar, salt and chemicals

Today’s post reviews the nutrients our mouth and teeth need to be healthy.

Vitamin A: a fat-soluble vitamin, it builds and maintains healthy teeth, bones, and oral tissues. It is also important for vision, reproduction, and fetal development.

A deficiency in Vitamin. A results in tooth decay, and dry mouth, dry eyes, dry skin.

Foods: fermented cod liver oil. (CLO is has the perfect ratio of Vitamin A to Vitamin D), greens, and orange and yellow vegetables.

B Complex Vitamins: Water soluble, they are essential for healthy gums. They accelerate gum healing.

Deficiencies in B’s result in mouth sores, dry mouth, cracked lips, bleeding gums, bad breath, angular cheilitis, and geographic tongue.

Foods with B’s: chicken, salmon, eggs, turkey, clams, mussels, green vegetables, and organ meats.

Vitamin C: is important for wound repair, and is an antioxidant. It helps the body to form and maintain connective tissues, including collagen found in gums and teeth. It prevents gum disease, builds strong enamel, and improves bad breath.

Deficiencies in Vitamin C: Scurvy, bleeding gums, easy bruising, poor wound healing, impaired immunity, swollen and painful joints, decrease in total collagen production and compromised collagen composition, and dry scaly skin.

Foods with C: Citrus, bell peppers, brussel sprounts, kiwi, kale, spinach, tomatos, and papaya.

CoQ10: Decreases gum inflammation, good for heart health, brain and muscles, and is important for growth and maintenance of the body. Helps heal our gums after periodontal therapy. It fights bacteria in the mouth, decreases gum inflammation, and helps maintain healthy teeth.

Deficiencies: Bad breath, tooth decay, dry mouth, and gum disease. Physical fatigue, mental fatigue, tired on waking, memory confusion, and difficulty concentrating. Most of us are deficient.

Foods with CoQ10: Fatty fish, organ meats, beef, sardines, and peanuts.

Collagen: Strengthens enamel, improves wound healing, gum health, and is essential for maintaining and repairing connective tissue.

Deficiencies: brittle teeth, receding gums, and mouth sores.

Foods: Sardines, organ meats, gelatin, eggs, beef, chicken with skin, bone broth.

Curcumin: an antioxidant and decreases gum inflammation and bleeding.

Foods: tumeric

Vitamin D3: Is important for gum health, and tooth health. Technically it is a hormone .It works with Vitamin A , K2 and Magnesium to feed the odontoblasts within the tooth and prevents tooth decay. It is important for bone health, sleep, and immune system.

Deficiency: tooth decay, increase in gum disease

Foods: Vitamin D is hard to get from the diet. Ideally, we get it from the sun, especially morning sunshine. Animal liver, fatty fish, egg yolks, and fish oils.

Green Tea: Has antibacterial activity, it helps in healing gums, tooth remineralization, and enamel health. It inhibits virus growth and decreases periodontal disease. It is proven to impede tumor cell growth.

Iodine: A trace mineral, it helps the body absorb calcium and promotes arterial and bone health. It is essential for a healthy thyroid gland.

Deficiency: increase in tooth decay, and gum disease, swollen tongue, dry mouth and mouth breathing.

Food: Sea salt, cod, spinach, bananas, cheese, lobster, eggs, and broccoli

Vitamin K2: Tells the calcium in the blood where to go- into the teeth and into the bones. It works with Vitamins D3 and A to help teeth heal. It improves insulin sensitivity which helps reduce gum inflammation.

Deficiency: Tooth decay, tartar build up, and athersclerosis.

Foods: Eggs, grass-feed butter, beef liver, natto, eel, fermented foods, sauerkraut, and chicken.

L-Arginine: An amino acid that is a biofilm manager, It buffers the pH of the biofilm and reduces biofilm thickness and density. The proper thickness of the biofilm helps protect the teeth. It helps remineralize teeth and reverses and prevents tooth decay. Saliva supplemented with arginine resits the lowering of pH, reducing the risk of demineralization of tooth surfaces.

Deficiency: Poor wound healing, diminished insulin production, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, skin rash and loss of hair.

Food: Meats, fish, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Magnesium: Mg works with Vitamins A, D3, and K2 for bone health and tooth health. Hardens tooth enamel, prevents loss of tooth density. It feeds the mitochondria.

Deficiency: Tooth decay, and dry mouth, restless sleep and restless leg syndrome. If you crave chocolate, you have a magnesium deficency.

Foods: chocolate, avocados, bananas, spinach , peanuts, almonds and kefir.

Melatonin: Stimulates bone cell that create bone and inhibits bone cells that break down bone which improves bone density. It promotes tissue regeneration. It promotes sleep. It helps protect the mitochondria.

Deficiency: Insomnia, depression, weight gain, acceleration of aging, metabolic disorders, and immunological aging.

Nitric Oxide: A gas produced by almost every cell in the body. It modulates the microbiome and reduces levels of anaerobic bacteria that cause bad breath. Nitric oxide is critical for brain and heart health. It improves our immune function. It makes the immune system resistant to viruses and bacteria. It may be the fountain of youth.

Deficiency: It reduces as we age and when we are not producing enough it ages you.

Food: Leafy greens, beets, garlic, meat, dark chocolate, citrus and pomogranate

Omega 3s: Improves connective tissue attachment and gum health and has antiinflammatory properties. Diets high in omega3s reduces t herisk of periodontal disease.

Deficiency: Depression, sensitive skin, dry skin, sun sensitivity, dry eyes, joint pain and stiffness, and hair changes.

Foods: fatty fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.

Potassium: Mineral that is important for the proper function of the heart, muscles, and nerves. It controls and maintains a healthy pH in the mouth which reduces the risk of tooth decay, periodontal disease and bad breath. It improves the mineral density of the teeth.

Deficiency: fatigue, confusion, muscle cramps and dry mouth.

Foods: spinach, tomatos, oranges, and bananas

Xylitol: a sugar alcohol that suppresses tooth decay bacteria strep mutans by making it less sticky, restores pH, prevents acidic bacteria from developing plaque, increases saliva flow, and keeps the teeth cleaner.

Zinc: forms and maintains the structure of the teeth gums and mucus membranes, and aids in saliva production. It is a mineral that is essential for the immune system, wound healing, normal taste and smell, prevents cavities, reduces inflammation, and is essential for healthy teeth and gums.

Deficiency: Dry mouth, cracked lips, hair loss, loss of taste and smell, tooth decay and gum disease, geographic tongue.

Foods: Oysters, beef, wheat germ spinach, mushrooms, yogurt and pumpkin seeds.

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Eat the rainbow at every meal

Food is medicine and we must look to it to help us be healthy and heal our bodies. We cannot supplement our way out of a poor diet. Garbage in=garbage out.

Supplements give our bodies a fighting chance. These foods, vitamins and minerals can help us have a healthy foundation and feed the good microbiome. We need to help the good bacteria, viruses and other microbes to grow and support us rather than allow the pathogens to take over. Before supplementing, please work with your primary care doctor to supplement properly for your body’s needs.

This list does not include every food, mineral or vitamin important to the mouth but it’s a great start. We also need fermented foods, water, as well as good sleep, stress reduction, and exercise. Our mouths would be healthier if we stopped eating sugar and fermentable carbohydrates.

Let’s conquer dental disease by looking at things differently. It’s time we got to the root of the matter- the food we ingest, the nutrients we need to have the building blocks for a healthy body. Take care of yourself and your loved ones by looking deeper into the foods you eat.

Barbara Tritz

Queen of Dental Hygiene and Life long Learner and Frustrated cook

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