The Specialist

Poor nutrition and gum disease

Bad nutrition or poor eating habits have serious negative effects on the health of the gums.

Since periodontal disease is a chronic disease, this means it cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication.

Chronic inflammatory diseases are heavily studied by today’s scientists. Their data consistently find a common link with many other degenerative diseases like diabetes, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis.

Periodontal disease causes the loss of the supporting bone for the teeth. Periodontal disease robs the person of their teeth resulting in loss of mouth function, loss of facial support and discomfort during eating. Some symptoms include bleeding gums, loose teeth, receding or swollen gums, bad breath or a bad bite associated with partial dentures or shifting teeth.

Today, we have conclusive evidence that link gum diseases to several medical illnesses. The body’s immune response to the bacterial plaque in your mouth results in chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation not only destroys the bone supporting your teeth, it also destroys the tissues and affects the organs of the entire body.

While plaque is necessary to cause the onslaught of periodontal disease, along with chronic inflammation, there is another factor that is worse.

Nutrition can play a positive or negative role, depending on how well or poorly one eats.

You already know that the bad foods are highly processed foods. Here is briefly why they are bad nutrition:

• High in sugar and high fructose corn syrup

• Biologically engineered for the public to overconsume

• Several artificial ingredients

• Helps create addictions to “fast foods”

• High in refined carbohydrates

• Low in important nutrients and fiber

• High in trans-unsaturated fats

Good nutrition, on the other hand, begins with whole foods and fresh water. Some examples include organic fruits, fresh vegetables, raw nuts and seeds.

I would recommend that before you brush and floss have an apple, eat some grapes, enjoy carrot sticks. Eat the good foods. They may save more than your teeth.

When one consumes inadequate amounts of fruits and vegetables, it limits the body’s ability to heal. The body depends on antioxidants, which get rid of free radicals in our system. Fruits and vegetables are superfoods and have antioxidants for our benefits. Free radicals are toxic byproducts of oxygen metabolism that damage living cells and tissues causing premature aging and disease. This process is called oxidative stress. Vitamins and minerals combat this and are, therefore, called antioxidants. The most potent free radical generator in the body is cigarette smoking, followed by environmental pollution, then fried foods.

Examples of antioxidant nutrients include vitamin A (B-carotene), vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione and melatonin.

Some nutrients are required in large quantities; for example, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. High carbohydrate intake has been implicated in periodontal disease and dental caries (cavities). A sugary diet encourages plaque formation and leads to dental decay. A strong link between obesity and periodontal disease has also been reported.

A number of reviews highlighting the link between nutrition and periodontal disease have been published in the last few years. Hence, the aim of this issue is to inform you of the relationship between nutrition and your periodontal health. Proper nutrition goes a long way in managing your periodontal disease while improving your treatment outcomes.

The natural consequence is the quality of your life, and your well-being is vastly improved.

 Dr. Kendal V.O. Major is the founder and CEO of the Center for Specialized Dentistry, which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in New Providence and Grand Bahama. He is the first Bahamian specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He is also a certified fast braces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, New Providence. He can be contacted at (242) 325-5165 or 

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