The Importance Of Oral Health & Nutritional Health


How Is My Oral Health Tied To My Nutritional Health?

 

Most people don’t associate their nutritional habits, dietary intake, or weight with what their smile looks and feels like. But the foods you eat or the drinks you enjoy each day are touching your teeth before the rest of your body. As such, it’s no surprise that the two are closely connected.  

When Your Teeth Prevent You From Eating A Balanced Diet

It almost goes without saying, but having unhealthy or missing teeth can drastically impact your dietary habits and nutrient intake. Take adult tooth loss or untreated decay as an example. When teeth hurt due to being infected — or there aren’t any teeth at all — it’s unbearable or physically impossible to bite or chew your food for digestion. This not only impacts the GI tract, it significantly reduces a person’s caloric intake, which can lead to unhealthy weight loss.  

Nutritional Deficiencies Or Disorders 

An eating disorder or deficiency of specific vitamins and nutrients can lead to problems like weak teeth or infected gums. Your dentist will likely review your medical history with you during your exam so that he or she can identify possible oral signs of underlying health conditions.  

Acid Exposure And Tooth Damage

You are what you eat, and it’s never been truer than when your dentist is checking your teeth. A diet high in carbohydrates, sweeteners/sugars, or acids can lead to extensive damage to your tooth enamel. Even something like reflux disease can cause gastric acids to make their way into your mouth and destruct your smile…which is why it’s very important to make sure not to eat foods that cause heartburn flare-ups.

What most people don’t realize, is that the foods or drinks they’re consuming are “unhealthy” for their smiles. Drinking something as simple as fruit juice or sports drinks can significantly increase your chance of forming cavities, regardless of whether or not you eat candy or drink soda. The key is to drink as much fluoridated water (out of the tap) as possible, keep your teeth clean, and reduce the time that acids have a chance to come into contact with your teeth. Most experts recommend consuming more “damaging” foods or drinks with your meal at a set time during the day, rather than snacking on them over the afternoon.  

Taking Care Of Your Teeth Is Good For Your Body

Gaining control over your dental health can significantly impact your body’s ability to manage other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc. It’s even linked with health problems like pneumonia, erectile dysfunction, and dementia.   

Chewing On Foods That Hurt Your Teeth And Jaws

Are you craving a piece of ice? Chomping down on an ice cube doesn’t just make your teeth sensitive…it causes micro-contractions inside of the tooth structure and any existing dental work (such as fillings or crowns.) The problem here is that the ceramic or metal in your tooth may not contract and expand at the same rate as your tooth, causing it to break the bond around it and begin to leak. One day, you might find your tooth cracked in half or your porcelain crown fractured because of the ice chewing habit you’ve had over time.  

All of this excess pressure also adds unnecessary strain to your jaw, otherwise known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ.) The pain in and around the jaw can contribute to headaches, muscle tension, and damage to the internal joint structures.  

Unsightly Stain Caused By Your Favorite Foods And Beverages

Your tooth is covered in thousands of microscopic pores known as “tubules.” As such, they can soak up stain particles during the day. That’s why people who drink a few cups of coffee each morning or prefer red wine over white tend to have more stain buildup across their smile. Tea, soda, and sometimes even milk can cause a stain. Foods such as curry or tomato sauces do the very same.  

Promoting A Healthy Smile And Lifestyle 

One of the best ways to ensure that your mouth is healthy is to schedule routine preventive care appointments with your dentist. Most dental insurance policies include two checkups and cleanings per year.  

Unfortunately, changes in healthcare have made it so that not everyone has access to dental coverage through their employer. At Cigna Dental Plans, we offer dental savings plans that are an affordable alternative to conventional insurance.  

Discount plan members can save 15-50% on everything from checkups to fillings and more. Contact our dental savings plan experts today to find out how! 

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