July 11, 2018

How Dieting and Food Restrictions Impact Dental Health

The impact of prolonged dieting or restrictive diets on your teeth and gums is often overlooked, but important to consider. If you are on a special diet, talk to us about the foods you are eating and not eating! Our dentists have a comprehensive background in nutrition, and can tell you how your diet may be affecting your teeth and gums.

Weight-loss plans and dietary restrictions
Many aggressive weight-loss plans are so low in mineral and vitamin intake that good oral health can be seriously affected. Dietary restrictions can also affect these important nutrients. For example, if your diet restricts or limits dairy for weight loss or other reasons, you are also limiting your intake of calcium and vitamin D, both essential elements for proper tooth development. It’s important to include calcium in your diet through sources like skim milk, low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese, or non-dairy sources like leafy green vegetables such as broccoli. In addition to the vitamins and nutrients you’re getting, eating foods such as crunchy vegetables and cheese will actually self-cleanse your teeth as you chew!

Diet suppressants
Using diet suppressants to control weight has proven to be particularly hard on gums and teeth. One side effect of these pills is decreased saliva flow, especially in middle-aged patients. Saliva is our natural defense against cavities and gum disease, as foods adhere to our teeth much longer when saliva levels are reduced. To combat this, toothbrushing time must be increased, and flossing needs to happen at least twice a day in order to keep your teeth clean from food and plaque. Be sure to use a fluoride toothpaste and not a whitening toothpaste with a peroxide ingredient, which will be too harsh in a dry oral environment and may damage dental enamel. Drinking lots of water will also help.

Arm yourself with information
Proper nutrition is an essential part of overall dental health. To learn more about how what you eat can protect your teeth and gums, read our article about Diet and Dental Health. Consult the Canada Food Guide for the most up-to-date recommendations on maintaining a balanced diet, and don’t forget to talk to your dentist!