The connection between oral and general health is being explored more than ever these days, and one of the most evident parallels between the two is the link between oral-systemic health and diet/nutrition. In 2011, an article by the Oral Sciences Department of Surgical and Oncological Disciplines in Palermo, Italy referenced the two as having a bi-unique relationship, and confirming the following statement:
“a balanced diet is correlated to a state of oral health (periodontal disease, dental elements, quality, and quantity of saliva), and vice versa.”
As oral health professionals know, tooth decay becomes a definite concern when patients have a high intake of sugar in their diets, but studies have also shown there are significant correlations between the times that patients consume sugar and the overall prevalence or incidence of caries. Research shows that if sugar is consumed only during meals (even if in large quantities), it has little effect on accelerating the incidence rate of caries for that individual.
On the other hand, frequent ingestion of sugar in between meals produced a notable increase in the occurrence of decay. Moreover, the type of sugar also has a direct effect; for instance, lactose produces less acidity than other sugars, while xylitol (instead of sucrose) can yield an 85% decrease in decay within a two-year period.
The following are additional facts related to Oral Health & Diet/Nutrition:
Lack of Vitamin D and Vitamin A can result in hypoplasia of the enamel and atrophy of the salivary glands (especially teeth in a pre-eruptive stage).
Extrinsic and intrinsic acids (citric, phosphoric, ascorbic, malic, tartaric, and carbonic) found in fruit juices, vinegar, and other beverages can produce irreversible loss of dental tissue, a.k.a. erosion.
Calcium and Vitamin C have a profound effect on the onset of periodontal disease since calcium plays a role in the density of the alveolar bone that supports the teeth, while vitamin C has an active effect in stimulating reparative mechanisms.
Vitamins A, E, C, and Beta Carotene have antioxidant properties that fight against and/or interfere with the activation of pro-carcinogens and potentially inhibit the growth of malignant lesions (a.k.a. leukoplakia).
Regular intake of fruits, vegetables, and vegetable fats has shown to counteract the risk for developing oral and pharyngeal cancers.