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                                                        DR. DAN PETERSON

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Not only is your diet important to your general health, it is also important to your dental health.

Not only is your diet important to your general health, it is also important to your dental health. 

If you do not eat a balanced diet, you are more likely to get tooth decay and gum disease. Developing teeth can also be affected. Children who have a poor diet are more likely to have dental problems. Likewise, pregnant women need balanced diets for their babies' teeth to develop normally.

Diet and tooth decay

How does the food you eat cause tooth decay? When you eat, food passes through your mouth. Here it meets the germs, or bacteria, that live in your mouth. You may have heard your dentist talk about plaque. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria.

These bacteria love sugars and starches found in many foods. When you don't clean your teeth after eating, plaque bacteria use the sugar and starch to produce acids that can destroy the hard surface of the tooth, called enamel. After a while, tooth decay occurs. The more often you eat and the longer foods are in your mouth, the more damage occurs.  

Gum disease and nutrition

 Poor nutrition can cause gum disease to progress faster and become more sever  in individuals whose diet does not supply the necessary nutrients.  Poor nutrition affects the entire immune system leaving people at a higher risk for gum disease.

Choose foods wisely

Some foods that you would least expect contain sugars or starches. Some examples are fruits, milk, bread, cereals and even vegetables.

The key to choosing foods wisely is not to avoid these foods, but to think before you eat. Not only what you eat but when you eat makes a big difference in your dental health. Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks. If you are on a special diet, keep your physician's advice in mind when choosing foods. For good dental health, keep these tips in mind when choosing your meals and snacks.  

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Tips for better dental health

  1. breads, cereals and other grain products
  2. fruits
  3. vegetables
  4. meat, poultry and fish
  5. milk, cheese and yogurt
bulletTo get a balanced diet, eat a variety of foods. Choose foods from each of the five major food groups:
bulletLimit the number of snacks that you eat. Each time you eat food that contains sugars or starches, the teeth are attacked by acids for 20 minutes or more.
bulletIf you do snack, choose nutritious foods, such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt, sugarless candy and/or gum or a piece of fruit.  
bulletFoods that cling to your teeth promote tooth decay, so avoid snacking on soft, sweet, sticky foods like cake, candy and dried fruits.
bulletFoods that are eaten as part of a meal cause less harm. More saliva is released during a meal, which helps wash foods from the mouth and helps lessen the effects of acids.
bulletAlways keep your mouth moist by drinking lots of water.  
bulletIf you have a dry mouth supplement your diet with sugarless candy or gum to stimulate saliva.
bulletWhen you eat fermentable carbohydrates like crackers, cookies and chips eat them as part of your meal instead of by themselves. 
bulletEast combination foods like cheese and crackers to help inhibit tooth decay.
bulletAvoid eating too much. It can not only lead to becoming overweight, it can lead to dental disease as well.
bulletBrush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste that has the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance.
bulletClean between your teeth daily with floss or use interdental cleaners.  

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Conditions such as tooth loss, pain or joint dysfunction can impair chewing there by restricting your diet which can lead to a poor nutritional intake and put you at risk to other health problems so................

Visit your dentist regularly. Your dentist can help prevent problems from occurring and catch those that do occur while they are easy to treat.

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Dental Erosion Consume pickles, lemons and soft drinks in moderation

 Frequently consuming foods with a low pH value, such as soft drinks, fruit juices, pickles, fresh fruit and yogurt can lead to irreversible dental erosion.  Dental erosion is the break down of tooth structure caused by the effect of acid on the teeth. Dental enamel is the thin, outer layer of hard tissue that helps maintain the tooth's structure and shape while protecting it from decay.

A low pH environment in the mouth helps contribute to dental erosion. pH (potential of hydrogen) is a standard way to measure the acidity of a substance. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14. A lower pH means that a solution contains more acid. The higher the pH, the more alkaline (or non-acidic) the solution will be. When a solution is neither acid nor alkaline it has a pH of 7, which is neutral.

When food or drink that is acidic is consumed the enamel will soften for a short amount of time.
Typically, saliva slowly helps to restore the natural balance of the acid found in the mouth. If foods high in acid are consumed on an excessive basis, the mouth can't repair itself and the greater the chance for dental erosion.

As the availability of soft drinks increase so does the amount of erosion in our population. The primary action patients can take to decrease their likelihood of erosion is to reduce consumption of sugary sodas, fruit juices and sports drinks.Vegetarian diets and diets in which fruit comprises more than 66 percent of the total food intake also makes patients more susceptible to erosion. Erosion can also be caused by stomach acids introduced into the mouth through vomiting and acid reflux.

These findings are important and suggest that caution should be exercised when consuming certain foods over long periods of time.

Acids found in common foods
  • Soft drinks - Phosphoric acid
  • Fruit and fruit products - Citric and malic acids
  • Fermented products (yogurt) - Lactic acid
  • Grapes and wines - Tartaric acid
  • After eating or drinking
  • Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva flow
  • Rinse with water for 30 seconds
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste


  • January/February 2005 issue of General Dentistry, the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) Samantha Shipley, DDS, and lead author of the report.

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    Dental considerations related to diet pills 

     Sibutramine (MeridiaR, Abbott)is an appetitie suppressant and anorexiant; a serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. Administration of anesthetics containing epinephrine and other vasoconstrictors should be avoided as patients are prone to increased blood pressure and heart rate. 

    The antibiotics erythromycin, clarithromycin, ketoconazole, fluconazole, and micronazole inhibit the breakdown of sibutramine in the liver and thereby influence the drug's effectiveness. Xerostomia is also an oral side effect that also needs to be addressed. 

    Orlistat (Xenical, La Roche), can cause gastrointestinal distress and loss of bowel control which may require additional time for appointments and frequent breaks in treatment. Decreased absorption of vitamins A,D,E, K and beta-carotene are common. 

    Phentermine (Ionamin, Celltech) can prolong the activity of epinepherine and norepinephrine. Anaesthetics should be used with caution. A hypertensive crisis, stroke, or myocardial infarction could result. Dexfenfluramine and Fenfluramine (Fen-phen)were both removed from the market in the US in 1997. They were shown to put patients at risk of regurgitatnt heart murmurs, even after discontinuing use. Former users should be referred to physicians for evaluation of potential heart valve damage. Premedication may be required.

     Enphedra can accelerate and increase the intensity of respiration. Regrettably the explosion of over-the counter weight-loss drugs remains largely unregulated or standardized. Monitor blood pressure, note nervous behaviors, identify xerostomia and use caution with local anesthetics, especially those containing epinephrine. [Stegeman CA, Carroll DK Dental considerations related to diet pills Contemporary Oral Hygiene 2004; 4(1):18-22.]

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    Weight and Teeth

    Being overweight may also contribute to bacterial infection of the gums that can lead to tooth loss.  In a study at Case Western Reserve University , obese adults between he ages of 18-34 were 76% more likely to have periodontal disease than similar aged people at a healthy weight.  And adults under 35 with large waistlines, at least 34 inches for women and 40 inches from men, were about twice as likely to have gum disease as their slimmer counterparts.  While the study does not prove that obesity causes gum disease, it points out that excess fat secretes substances called cytokines that can damage tissues around the teeth.  Also heavy consumption of sugary foods may allow bacteria to thrive in the mouth, while fiber rich fruits and vegetable may inhibit plaque.

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    (Information from  American Dental Association and Academy of General Dentistry)

    For more on food and nutrition see Nutrition Gov.

      Dietary Guidelines    Nutrition Topics Index Prevention Index  
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    PLEASE NOTE: The information contained herein is intended for educational purposes only.  It is not intended and should not be construed as the delivery of dental/medical care and is not a substitute for personal hands on dental/medical attention, diagnosis or treatment.  Persons requiring diagnosis, treatment, or with specific questions are urged to contact your family dental/health care provider for appropriate care.
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