NUTRITION AND ORAL HEALTH
Through centuries, food has been recognized as important for human beings in health and diseases. Nutrition is the science of food and it’s the relationship to health. Good nutrition, an adequate well-balanced diet combined with regular physical activity is a cornerstone of good health. Poor nutrition can lead to reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to disease, impaired physical and mental development and reduced productivity. Proteins are the most common substances found in the body after water, making up about 50% of the body’s dry weight. RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for protein is 0.8-1 gram per day per kg body weight. Protein provides 4kcal of energy per gram. But protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) occurs when there are deficiencies in protein and over a third of the world’s children are affected by PEM which results in lower resistance to diseases. Deficiency of proteins leads to small teeth, delayed tooth eruption, retarded jaw growth and poor bone calcification. The cell types involved in cellular immunity also require protein for their production. Protein sources include milk, eggs, meat, cheese, fish, pulses, cereals, beans, nuts etc.
Carbohydrates, another important ingredient of diet provides 4kcal of energy per gram. RDA for carbohydrates is 130g/day. The deficiency of carbohydrates is not experienced much as they are found abundantly in most the foods. Dental caries is the most common no communicable disease worldwide and is a major public health problem globally. It is affecting 60-90% of school children and the vast majority of adults. It is caused by the action of acids on the enamel surface produced by sugar in foods and drinks. This acid produced leads to the loss of calcium and phosphate from the enamel (demineralization). It is also the most prevalent condition included in the 2015 Global Burden of Disease Study, ranking 1st for the decay of permanent teeth (2.3 billion people) and 12th for deciduous teeth (560 million). Research also indicates high-fat foods tend to be inhibitory towards dental caries. However, prevention of dental caries can be approached in three easy and simple ways:
Reduce frequent consumption of sugars.
Apple pit and fissure sealants.
Vitamins are another class of organic compounds required in fewer amounts but very essential to the body. As vitamins are not synthesized in the body, they have to be supplied through the food. For example, vitamin A and beta-carotene are very important for the growth and development of periodontium, teeth, salivary glands and oral epithelium. Recent studies have shown that beta-carotene has a role as a chemotherapeutic agent in oral cancers. Vitamin C is important in the healing of oral soft and hard tissue wounds. Its deficiency can cause scurvy. Deficiency of vitamin D can lead to the retarded jaw, tooth and condyle development, reduced quality of the tooth enamel, dentin and generalized jaw bone resorption and loss of periodontal ligament. Deficiency of vitamin B complex can cause smooth swollen tongue. All these vitamins play their role in maintaining our oral health and their deficiency result in oral diseases. Cheese, egg yolk, liver, green vegetables, fruits, meals etc. are all their sources.
Minerals make up about 4% of body weight. They provide structure for bones and teeth. For example, fluorides have an anticaries effect on teeth. Fluoride-containing toothpaste is also available but excess of everything is dangerous and it’s excess in daily intake can result in fluorosis. Their sources include whole grains, seafood, dairy food, fluoridated water etc.