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Bad Food + Bad Oral Hygiene = Bad News

2540017156_6da082e909With the growing body of evidence that oral health can impact a patient’s systemic health comes a growing concern from health care professionals about eating– and drinking– habits. In fact, a report published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, a group from Britain, announced that one way consumers could improve both oral and systemic health would be to forego sugary, fizzy drinks.

Why?

Sugary drinks are certainly a worthy target from health professionals; they offer no nutritive value but pack sometimes hundreds of calories– calories that many find padding their waistlines. In addition, the acids found in carbonated sugar drinks contribute to the enamel erosion associated with them so that teeth are under attack both from the bacteria who flourish on the sugar in the drink and the low pH of the drink itself.

But what else?

There are actually a few inter-lacing factors impacting the issues of oral health and eating that the report discusses. The first, most obvious, is that individuals who eat high sugar diets are quite simply feeding bacteria. If those same individuals are failing to brush and floss properly, their oral bacteria will flourish– there’s nothing to stop them. They’re calling all their relatives, telling them they’ve found the best neighborhood ever, and everyone should move there!

Less obvious is the link between poor diet and obesity. Obesity is a health condition well-documented as a risk factor for other health problems like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. And poor oral health is another risk factor.

Periodontitis, or gum disease, is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease like endocarditis and stroke. It is also documented that diabetes patients are at higher risk for periodontitis, leading to a sticky spiral of health problems. It is far easier to maintain your oral health and eat healthy!

But there’s more!

Eating poorly isn’t just bad for you, but you’re also missing out on the benefits of eating well! A poor diet filled with sugar, fat, and processed carbohydrates does not supply the vitamins necessary for oral health. Vegetables in particular are high in vitamins B and A, both critical for gum health, as well as calcium and phosphorous, which help rebuild damaged enamel.

In addition, whole foods– particularly fruits and vegetables– stimulate and clean the gums while you’re eating. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” isn’t just an empty promise to get you to eat healthy; there’s truth to those words!

To use another common phrase, eating poorly is truly “burning the candle at both ends” when it comes to oral health. And that’s not even considering whether or not the eater is brushing and flossing.

The good news

It’s true that some people get a bad gene, maybe high blood pressure or cholesterol, that just, unfortunately, is in your blood line– but, in terms of diet and oral hygiene, and all the health problems associated with bad diet and hygiene, the control is entirely in our hands. Our decisions and healthy habits directly impact our health, comfort, and longevity.

Regular brushing, flossing, and visits to your Coos Bay dentist, Dr. Lori, are all part of the critical preventive care your smile needs to stay healthy– and it’s a great opportunity to talk about diet and get some great recipes from us that support oral health!

Make your appointment with Dr. Lori today. We look forward to seeing you!

Photo Credit: ais3n via Compfight cc

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