Though it’s vital to visit your dentist on a regular basis for check-ups and advice, maintaining good dental health is something which the individual patient can do a lot about on their own behalf. The first step towards preventing gum disease and decay is to maintain a strict hygiene and flossing regime, cleaning at least twice a day and utilising the correct cleaning methods as demonstrated by a dental hygienist. The second plank required for solid and effective oral health care revolves around the kind of diet you eat.
Most people are probably fully aware of the fact that there are some foods which are commonly accepted as being ‘bad for the teeth’. These can range from strongly coloured food or drink items such as coffee or red wine, which will stain the enamel of the teeth, to sweets, fizzy drinks and even some fruits which are packed with the kind of sugars which can lead to tooth decay. Recent research, however, has uncovered another dietary measure which can be used to preserve the good health of your teeth and that is spurning meat in order to opt for a vegetarian diet. Research carried out at the Department of Conservative Dentistry, Periodontology and Preventive Dentistry, Hannover Medical School, focused on groups of 100 vegetarians and 100 meat eaters. The findings presented a mixed picture but one which, overall, highlighted the positive benefits of a vegetarian diet.
The research discovered that the vitamin and nutrient rich nature of a vegetarian diet resulted in healthier gums which were less likely to bleed and develop gum disease, and that vegetarians were less likely to suffer tooth loss and the other life threatening diseases associated with poor dental health. On the flip side of this, the scientists also discovered that vegetarians are more likely to suffer tooth decay and, interestingly, less likely to visit their dentist regularly.
The findings were thought to indicate that a deficiency in Vitamin D and calcium, something to which vegetarian are more prone, would mean that the enamel of a patients teeth was softer and therefore more vulnerable to decay. To summarise, the anti-oxidants in fresh fruit and vegetables help to prevent gum disease, the most common cause of tooth loss, whilst the vitamin deficiencies to which vegetarians are sometimes prone are more likely to lead to decay. If you are a vegetarian then mention the fact to your dentist, since they may well recommend that you take a daily vitamin supplement to ensure that your levels remain high enough to keep the enamel of your teeth strong and healthy.
The technical details of the research included the findings that vegetarians exhibited:
It should be borne in mind that maintaining good dental health is about much more than simply having a smile which is as attractive as possible, desirable though this may be. Poor dental hygiene has been linked with potentially life threatening conditions such as cardiac and respiratory problems, as well as with mouth cancers, pregnancy complications and sexual health issues in men. Whilst diet will have a big impact, another key step will be to meet your dental hygienist. They’ll be able to spot any deficiencies in your hygiene regime – whether that means the brush or paste you’re using, the number of times you clean per day or the actual brushing technique employed – and offer the advice needed to prevent any problems.