I am sure we are all familiar with the idea that quality output requires quality input. Perhaps we are more familiar with the expression “garbage in, garbage out”! However, since we are talking about the health of our mouths, I prefer to put a more positive spin than you would associate with the use of terms like “garbage”.

Regardless as to the terminology, the bottom line is that if you are looking for good oral health as your output, you have to be mindful of the foods you put into your mouth as your input!  Good nutrition affects the entire body, including your mouth! So improving your diet is a good first step to improving your oral health.

So what constitutes a healthy diet? One thing to be mindful of is that you are maintaining a healthy balance of essential vitamins. Many patients can be quite surprised at how we at Rideau Dental Centre can see the signs of diet that is deficient in certain vitamins.

For example, lack of vitamin B can lead to such symptoms as difficulty swallowing, inflammation of the tongue, discolouration of the gums and even damage to the inner cheeks.

Similarly, a lack of vitamin C can lead to bleeding of the gums and gingivitis. This is due to the fact that vitamin C slows the synthesis of collagen which is a vital component for the build-up of many tissues in the body. Just think back to your grade school history classes and all the problems early European explorers had with scurvy until they discovered how it could be prevented with vitamin C!

Vitamin D is essential to maintain strong bones. People who lack this vitamin tend to be more likely to have periodontal issues. This can be compounded by a weaker jaw structure. Imagine if your periodontal condition resulted in tooth loss, but you were not a suitable candidate for implants because your jaw bone was no longer strong enough to support them!

The anti-oxidant effects of vitamin E not only benefit the rest of the body, they are essential to good oral health as well. Vitamin E can eliminate certain harmful chemicals in the body, or “free radicals”, that can do damage to the rest of our cells we want to keep healthy.

When you take into consideration these examples, it is easy to see why a healthy diet is vital to good oral health. The trick is to know what foods to eat in order to make sure you are getting the nutrients you need.

While our recommendations are hardly exhaustive, you can look to leafy, green vegetables, bananas, eggs, milk and nuts as great sources of vitamin B. Similarly, vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes and dark green vegetables.

Most of us are aware that a little bit of sunlight goes a long way for our vitamin D. You obviously need to be mindful of the effects of overexposure, but some sunlight is good for us. Various fish liver oils, eggs and milk or milk products are also good sources of vitamin D.

Finally, look to various vegetable oils or nuts as great sources of vitamin E.

Of course, even people with the healthiest of diets still need to come and visit their dentist at Rideau Dental Centre to make sure their oral health is where it needs to be.

After all, eating well may reduce your likelihood of developing oral health conditions. That does not mean it eliminates that likelihood. A healthy diet, good brushing and flossing routines, combined with regular dental visits all work together to keep you oral health at its best. And keeping your oral health at its best is a healthy habit…and healthier habits lead to healthier lives.

Dr. George Parry

Dental Surgeon