gmhTODAY 02 gmhToday May June 2015 - Page 25

It ’ s Your Smile

Nutrition For Oral Health

By Dr . Jernell Escobar
Dr . Escobar has been practicing dentistry in the Bay Area since 2006 . She took over Dr . Palmerlee ’ s practice when he retired in 2012 . She is passionate about providing exceptional oral health care in a patient centered environment . Dr . Escobar participates in continuing education seminars with other leading clinicians in exploring new and innovative methods and materials for restoring smiles .

Excellent daily oral hygiene is probably the most important way to keep your teeth and gums healthy . This includes effective brushing and flossing as well as the use of various oral rinses . Often forgotten but every bit as important to good oral health is a nutritious diet . Proper vitamins and minerals are essential to the health and development of the teeth and gums .

We have all been told that too much sugar in our diets causes tooth decay . However , most of us fail to recognize the sugar that is present in foods we would not normally associate with having a high sugar content . When we talk to patients about cavity causing foods , we use the term “ fermentable carbohydrates .” This refers specifically to the type of sugar that the bacteria that cause tooth decay love to eat . A cavity is a hole in a tooth caused by acid erosion . When the bacteria that cause cavities eat fermentable carbohydrates , they secrete acid as a byproduct that can dissolve tooth structure , thus creating a cavity . Many foods contain these fermentable carbohydrates such as bread , milk , grains , candy , fruit and the list goes on . You should not expect to eliminate these foods from your diet but you should moderate their intake and brush thoroughly after eating .
Vitamins and minerals are essential to the development and maintenance of healthy teeth and gums . Often , people supplement their diets with over the counter vitamins and minerals because their diets are poor . However , studies have shown time and again that there is no substitute for proper nutrition . This will help to build strong teeth and bones as well as healthy gums .
The mineral fluoride is a very well known tool in the fight against tooth decay . Topically , fluoride aids in the hardening of tooth structure . It makes tooth enamel stronger and can actually help reverse smaller cavities . When ingested during childhood , fluoride is incorporated into the developing adult teeth making them stronger . However , once the adult teeth have completely formed , the topical application of fluoride is the delivery modality of choice .
Xylitol is a sugar substitute that has been shown to have an anti-cavity effect . Xylitol is a naturally occurring carbohydrate that is typically extracted from corncobs and trees . The natural sourcing of xylitol makes it a very attractive option for those who shy away from artificial sweeteners . Xylitol can be found in many sugar free chewing gums , toothpastes , mouth rinses and mints as well as a sugar substitute in many foods . Used in moderation , xylitol can help in the fight against tooth decay .
In conclusion , a healthy and balanced diet in conjunction with effective oral hygiene will keep you smiling for years to come .
G M H T O D A Y M A G A Z I N E MAY / JUNE 2015 gmhtoday . com
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