Dental health is something that is often neglected in favor
of more pressing health concerns like weight loss and
fat loss. Dental health, however, is just as important as
overall physical health. Believe it or not, poor dental health has
just as much effect on a person as their overall physical health.
Importance of diet in dental health
Diet plays a very important role in dental health. A healthy, balanced
diet should contain the essential vitamins and minerals
that keep the teeth and gums in optimum condition for a long
A diet rich in vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and lowglycemic
carbohydrates (e.g., fibrous vegetables and fruit) and
low in simple sugars (e.g., bread, cakes and candies) go a long
way in preventing tooth decay.
Link between dental health and disease
Researchers have discovered a correlation between gum (periodontal) disease and cardiovascular disease. While a concrete
scientific relationship has yet to be established, the researchers
reported two interesting findings.
First, the type of bacteria present in gum disease is also
present in the blood vessels undergoing atherosclerosis (the
prelude to heart disease). Second, inflammation of the gums
increases the levels of a body protein called CRP (C-reactive
protein). CRP is also one of the indicators used by doctors to
evaluate a person’s risk of having heart disease, and interestingly
enough, CRP levels are also higher in those suffering from
obesity (another well-known risk factor for heart disease).
Cancer is another health condition that has correlation
with oral health. A study by Harvard researchers showed a link
between periodontal disease and pancreatic cancer. While the
study has not yet been verified by laboratory experiments, it is
the initial speculation of the researchers that gum inflammation
is a significant factor, as it also causes inflammation in other
parts of the body.
Nutrients for optimum tooth and gum health
Just like the rest of the body, the gums and the teeth also require
specific nutrients to keep them in optimum shape and prevent
infection, inflammation, and damage. The following nutrients
are essential for dental health:
Calcium is a trace element that is the main component of the
physical structure of teeth and bones. Normal calcium levels
help keep the tooth enamel healthy and resistant to erosion
caused by bacteria. Calcium deficiency leads to tooth decay
brought about by the weakening of tooth enamel.
The US National Institutes of Health recommends the following
daily intake for calcium: 1200 milligrams for men and
women over the age of seventy, 1000 milligrams for men and
women aged nineteen to seventy, 1300 milligrams for children
who are between the ages of nine and eighteen, 1000 milligrams
for children between four and eight years old, and 700
milligrams for children between one and three years old.
Calcium is readily available in dairy products (e.g., milk
and yogurt), turnip and collard greens, and kale. It can also be
found in its most bioavailable form within humic acid (i.e. Leaf-
Zinc is another important trace element that is also involved
in many body processes. While not as abundant as calcium, it
plays an important role in maintaining dental health by preventing
gum infection and plaque build-up. Deficiency in zinc can
lead to mouth sores and gingivitis.
Aside from preventing infections, zinc has also been proven
to significantly reduce bad breath. Researchers have conducted
studies on the effect of zinc-fortified mouthwashes and chewing
gum on bad breath. They discovered that the zinc in the
oral products reduced the real cause of bad breath—sulphurcontaining
The recommended daily intake for zinc is eight milligrams
for adult females and eleven milligrams for adult males.
Zinc can be easily incorporated into one’s diet, as its sources
are readily available to everyone. Oysters are said to contain
the highest amount of readily available zinc, followed by liver
and beef. Other sources include wild rice, cheese, and humic
acid (i.e. LeafSource).
This trace mineral functions mainly as a carrier of oxygen
throughout the body via the bloodstream. Lack of iron in the
diet causes anemia, which in turn reduces oxygen flow in the
various body cells and tissues. Lack of oxygen flow has been
linked to infections and sores. In the mouth, this is manifested
by bleeding gums and painful canker sores that often take a
long time to heal.
Just like zinc, dietary sources of iron are plentiful and inexpensive.
Good sources are liver and other meat products. Iron-fortified
foods like breakfast cereals can also help a person meet
the recommended daily iron intake of eight milligrams (for
adult males) and 18 milligrams (for adult females), however in
my opinion, most are way too high in sugar, which negates any of their fortification.
Together with calcium, magnesium helps strengthen the tooth
enamel and prevents the formation of cavities and the onset of
tooth decay. The recommended daily requirement for magnesium
is 400 milligrams.
One of the best supplemental sources of magnesium is
magnesium bisglycinate (magnesium bound to the amino acid
glycine). The bisglycinate form is believed to be many times
more absorbable than the citrate form. Dietary magnesium can
be found in a wide variety of sources—fish, dark green leafy vegetables,
dark chocolate, and bananas.
Slade GD, et al. Relationship between periodontal disease and Creactive protein among adults in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study.
Arch Intern Med. 2003 May 26;163(10):1172–9. Michaud DS, et al. A prospective study of periodontal disease and pancreatic cancer in US male health professionals.
J Natl Cancer Inst. 2007 Jan 17;99(2):171–5. Periodontal Disease and Systemic Health.
American Academy of Periodontology. (Accessed May 21, 2015). NIH Medline Plus.
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/winter11/articles/winter11pg12.html. Fedorowicz Z, et al. “Mouthrinses for the treatment of halitosis.” Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (4): CD006701. Oct 8, 2008.
Brad King, MS, MFS is a highly sought after authority on nutrition, obesity, longevity and one’s health and he has been touted as one of the most influential health mentors of our time. Brad can be heard live every week on Wednesday at noon Pacific/3 P.M. Eastern as he hosts the talk radio program “Transforming Health with Brad King” on Blog Talk Radio. https://www.facebook.com/TransformingHealth and www.Twitter.com/HealthyKingBrad.