How does your dentist know about your diet?
Don’t be surprised if at your next dental visit you’re not just getting advice on good dental hygiene, but also healthy eating tips. This isn’t just about too much sugar and soft drinks, but because the mouth is often the first place to shows signs of vitamin deficiencies.
What do vitamins do?
Vitamins function primarily as catalysts for chemical reactions within the body, so a lack of these essential elements can lead to the breakdown of normal body functions, making you more susceptible to disease and other health-related problems.
A lack of vitamin B complex can lead to mouth and teeth problems – your tongue swells up and you may experience trouble swallowing. The insides of your cheek may also be affected – the tissue looks pale, breaks apart and sloughs off easily.
A deficiency in folic acid – also in the vitamin B group (B9) – can result in a burning sensation in the mouth, especially on the tongue. Severe B12 and folic acid deficiencies may cause numbness, tingling limbs and gastrointestinal problems. Folic acid is also critical to healthy foetal development during early pregnancy.
What does your body require?
The body only requires vitamins in very small amounts – only hundredths of a gram in many cases. Common sources of vitamin B complex are:
Thiamin (B1) Pork, liver, whole and enriched grains, legumes and nuts.
Riboflavin (B2) Milk, milk products, eggs, meats, broccoli, whole and enriched grains.
Niacin (B3) Milk, eggs, meat, poultry fish, nuts, whole and enriched grains.
Pyroxidine (B6) Meat, poultry, fish, green leafy vegetables, bananas, enriched grains and legumes.
Folic acid (B9) also called folate Green leafy vegetables, oranges, legumes, broccoli, asparagus and fortified cereals.
Cobalamin (B12) Fish, meat, poultry, milk and milk products, eggs and fortified cereals.
Loose teeth, bleeding gums and poor healing are a result of insufficient vitamin C and a lack of vitamin D can also lead to enamel hypoplasia – which causes grooves on the outer surface or small dents of the affected tooth. Also, the teeth might turn yellow or brown.
Good health directly correlates to good dental health, so a balanced diet is the best protection in keeping a strong body and mind – and a healthy smile.