Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Your Teeth and Your Diet

I know this is an odd topic for a Nutrition Blog, but I have always wondered if there is a connection between the health of your mouth and the health of your body.

Like most people, I try to take good care of my teeth. I brush regularly, and I floss at least daily. I try to rinse after drinking coffee or tea and I don't chew sugar-laden gum.

Despite all this, visits to the dentist are rarely fun for me. In the past it was never a question of IF I needed a filling, but rather HOW MANY fillings I would need.

I say 'in the past' because for the last four visits to the dentist things have definitely changed for me. Starting about two years ago, I had my first "cavity free" visit to the dentist.

The hygienist took a look at my teeth, then my files, and said "What are you doing differently?" I answered "Nothing" because honestly, I couldn't think of anything I have been doing that was any different. I brushed my teeth the same amount, and I flossed the same amount too.

My next visit was the same, followed by the next. Then just the other day I was at the dentist and my hygienist said "Hey, I saw your book on the 'net". After a little bit of conversation she offered up the idea that "Maybe it's that fact that you give your mouth a break every once and while that has made your teeth so much better"

Not a bad theory. Now, this is a N=1 case report, completely uncontrolled and full of bias, but I think it is still worth some consideration.

I don't profess to know much about density, but I could see how if you are constantly eating, then your mouth would constantly requires the enzymes responsible for breaking down food, perhaps this creates an environment that is capable of degrading the enamel of your teeth.

Something to consider for those following Eat Stop Eat.


Stumble Upon Toolbar


billy said...

I've noticed that since I started eating healthily and incorporating more omega-3's, my last 4 trips to the dentist have been cavity-free (after 2 root canals and all manner of other stuff before...)

Matt Metzgar said...


I don't think it's necessarily just giving the mouth a break. I believe that metabolic issues impact gum and teeth health. For example:

Caries Res. 2008;42(1):14-8. Epub 2007 Nov 27.
Dental findings in diabetic adults.Bakhshandeh S, Murtomaa H, Vehkalahti MM, Mofid R, Suomalainen K.
Institute of Dentistry, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. Soheila.Bakhshandeh@helsinki.fi

The dental status of dentate diabetic adults (n = 299) and its associations with diabetes-related factors was explored in Tehran, Iran. Presence of diabetes-related complications made no difference in mean values of DMFT, but was associated with a higher number of decayed and missing teeth, and fewer filled teeth. Higher level of HbA1c was associated with higher DMFT for men, but not for women. In conclusion, the results suggest a possible association between the level of metabolic control of diabetes mellitus and cumulative caries experience.

Daws Metcalf said...

Very informational site.

sarah said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Anonymous said...

Hi there, I have no idea if you will see this comment since this is an old blog post but thought I would share my two cents...Most of my life I dental issues very similar to you (let's just say I have a mouth full of fillings)....then I stopped smoking about 10 years ago and along with that I stopped drinking beverages that were not part of my meals (i.e. coffee/tea etc. - I don't restrict water obviously)..I stopped them because they triggered me to want to smoke as I always had a cigarette along with a beverage of some kind... I also pretty much stopped eating between meals as well, again because they seemed to trigger me to want a cigarette. Weirdly my dental and gum issues disappeared! I think it because my mouth now is not constantly exposed to sugars or food debris and therefore my teeth are not exposed to constant acids (bacteria on teeth excrete acid which causes the decay and gum inflammation)...

So it totally makes sense that IF would also dramatically decease the exposure to acids and give your body enough time to reminerialize the eroded areas on your teeth (your teeth can self repair if given some time and calcium and fluoride)....Also I would imagine that gums also benefit from the decreased inflammation in the body that occurs with fasting of all types....

Just my two cents..