If you’ve had a dental appointment recently, you’re probably familiar with this situation. Your dentist asks how your brushing and flossing has been going since your last appointment. It’s an awkward moment because for the most part, people don’t keep their promises to improve their oral hygiene!
As a dentist I have to admit, this frustrated me for a long time, but eventually it made me realise something very important. Your body is also designed to manage and protect your teeth. Brushing and flossing, sure, they keep teeth squeaky clean on the outside, but it doesn’t address how your teeth are doing on the inside.
Your body is specifically designed to maintain your skeletal system. It’s one of the most important jobs it has, because if your bones break, you’re in a lot of trouble!
That’s why a toothache hurts so much; your body is in extreme distress because it’s telling you there’s something seriously wrong. Your dental health is one of the best signs of how your body is managing bone and joint health all over the body. Understanding mineral balance is also one of the best ways to eat a diet for better health.
Remember healthy mouth, healthy body!
Teeth and Calcium Balance
Your teeth contain the hardest structure in the body, the enamel. They’re the closest thing you have to a bone that sticks out from your skin. The enamel is hard protective shell of your tooth. You can be relieved that you have tooth enamel, because if you didn’t, eating would be a very painful process.
But while your enamel is protective, it isn’t actually ‘alive’. It contains no live cells, and relies on calcium supplied by your saliva.
There is a vitamin system that manages how minerals get into your bones and teeth. The main factors are the fat-soluble vitamin D. It’s the main orchestrator of calcium in your body.
Vitamin D is the best known for its role in bone health. Osteoporosis has been long linked to vitamin D deficiency. It’s a progressive loss of bone density that increases risk of fracture and joint degeneration.
But osteoporosis is a sign of long time mineral imbalance in the body. Problems in the mouth may be a far earlier sign of your skeletal health. Tooth decay is linked to low levels of vitamin D, yet it is a little acknowledged factor in how to keep your teeth health.
Vitamin D as a Hormone
Vitamin D is essential for the development and maintenance of bone. It’s the primary director of calcium absorption from food in the intestine, and for ensuring the correct renewal and mineralization of bone tissue.
While it’s called a vitamin, Vitamin D is far more like a hormone. It’s made in the skin and is vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). You can also get vitamin D from the diet in the form of vitamin D3 or a closely related molecule of plant origin known as vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol).
All of these conditions relate to vitamin D’s deep role in the body, including the immune system.
Problems with low vitamin D may also be detected in the mouth. Gum disease is first identified as bleeding gums or gingivitis. Studies are showing the links between gum disease and vitamin d deficiency.
That means your bleeding gums could be one of the first signs of your body being unable to maintain its bone and joint health.
If you aren’t getting regular sun, you need to include dietary sources of vitamin D3.
Food sources of vitamin D3 come from a specific set of animal based foods. These include oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, eggs, liver, and pasture raised dairy.
Be sure to include servings of dietary vitamin D into your daily diet for healthy strong teeth and bones.
Dr. Steven Lin is a practicing board accredited dentist, writer and speaker. As passionate health educator, Dr. Lin works to merge the fields of dental and nutritional science to show how the mouth is a crucial part of our overall health. As a TEDx speaker his work has been featured on influential health websites such as MindBodyGreen and About.com. Dr. Lin is now working on his own publication ‘The Dental Diet’ an exploration of how food is the foundation of oral health and how it connects to the body. Follow Dr. Lin on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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