Nutrition for Good Dental Health

We are bombarded with commercials and information for foods and dietary supplements that are directed towards improving our health.  We seldom hear about nutrition for good dental health.  Is it because it is not important?  Quite the contrary!  Nutrition is vital to good dental health. In fact, there have been many studies dating back to the 1920’s that show, irrefutably, that nutrition directed towards good dental health can prevent dental problems and actually stop dental decay.

By studying people with good dental health that consumed various vitamins and minerals in their diets and comparing them to people with poor dental health that lacked essential nutrients, researchers were able to pinpoint the most effective nutrients for optimum dental health.

The primary nutrients that are essential for optimum dental health are:
Calcium – Calcium is the primary building block for bones and teeth and is used in a number of biochemical pathways in the body.  Your body is continuously absorbing calcium and releasing it to and from your bones. If insufficient calcium is available, your body will prioritize its usage. Teeth are often given a lower priority than other, more critical organs and functions. As a result, tooth development and maintenance suffers.

Phosphorus , Vitamin K, and Vitamin D – These minerals and vitamins are key elements in teeth and bone building processes.  Having enough calcium is not enough to assure strong bones and teeth. If any of these nutrients are not available, the teeth and bone building process will be hindered. Vitamin D is not only critical for teeth formation and maintenance but it also is involved in literally hundreds of other biochemical processes in the body. In many cases it works as a hormone, acting as a signaling chemical between cells, organs and the brain.  Significant research has shown that Vitamin D is instrumental in preventing major diseases including heart disease and cancer.  Today, most people have insufficient Vitamin D levels.

Fluoride – The British Dental Foundation has studied the effects of fluoride on teeth for years. It concluded that fluoride helps to build strong enamel, the protective layer on the tooth that helps to prevent decay. It is naturally present in fish, tea and many drinking water sources.  However, people that drink well water often lack adequate fluoride intake and may need fluoride supplementation.

Recommended Daily Consumption:

Calcium – 200 mg
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Phosphorus
Life Stage     Age     Males (mg/day)     Females (mg/day)
Infants     0-6 months    100 (AI)  100 (AI)
Infants     7-12 months   275 (AI)     275 (AI)
Children     1-3 years     460     460
Children    4-8 years     500     500
Children     9-13 years    1,250     1,250
Adolescents     14-18 years   1,250     1,250
Adults     19 years and older    700     700
Pregnancy 18 years & younger   –     1,250
Pregnancy 19 years and older   –     700
Breast-feeding 18 years& younger-     1,250
Breast-feeding 19 years & older    –     700

Vitamin K – 500 mg
Vitamin D – 2000 IU although up to 5000 IU is often required.  Up to 50,000 IU can be taken without harm for most people.
Fluoride – 1 mg

Avoid These Items:
Researchers have also discovered that cereals can cause significant teeth decay. In particular, whole grain cereals such as oats and whole wheat are more destructive to your teeth than white flour cereals. This is because the whole grain flours contained anti-calcifying agents called phytic acid or phytic. When ingested, phytic chemically binds to calcium making it unavailable for absorption by bones and teeth. In essence, when eating these grains, you are essentially stealing calcium from critical biochemical teeth building processes.
Today, in the United States, a person can consume essential vitamins and minerals from food sources or by taking dietary supplements to assure optimum dental health.  Make sure you and your children consume adequate quantities of these essential dental nutrients, while minimizing sugar and cereal consumption.  You will not only have fewer cavities, healthier teeth, but you will most likely live a longer and healthier life. If you want your children to have strong teeth with minimum cavities, start them out on an optimized dental vitamin and mineral regimen.  Both of you will be glad you did.

* AI
adequate intake. Established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the US Institute of Medicine, the AI is a recommended intake value based on observed or experimentally determined estimates of nutrient intake by a group of healthy people that are assumed to be adequate. An AI is established when an RDA cannot be determined.