Nutrition and Oral Health Fact Sheet

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Oral health at UK HealthCare

Adult Dentistry provides consultation and comprehensive care for all levels of oral/dental needs.

Why is nutrition important to good health?

Nutrition plays a protective and preventive role in oral health. The protective role is in promoting healthy development and maintenance of the mouth's tissues and their natural protective mechanisms. Nutrition also helps prevent oral disease by influence of the food's properties on plaque development and saliva flow. Consuming a variety of foods is important for oral health.

What diseases are caused by poor oral health?

The following are chronic diseases that occur in the mouth as a result of improper nutrition and oral care.

Caries - More commonly known as dental decay or cavities, caries results when a hole is formed from acid production if plaque is not removed from the teeth. If untreated, it may kill the tooth and lead to a root canal or loss of the tooth.

Gingivitis - Poor brushing and flossing habits allow plaque to build up on teeth. The gums become red and swollen and may bleed. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease.

Periodontitis - This is a chronic infection of the tissues that hold teeth in place. Plaque builds up under the gums. The gums may pull away from the teeth and pockets of infection are formed. Periodontitis can lead to tooth loss in addition to the loss of the bone that holds the tooth in its socket.

Preventing dental decay

Eat fewer carbohydrates - Every time carbohydrate-containing foods are consumed, acids are released. The more frequently carbohydrates are consumed, the more opportunity there is for acids to damage teeth.

Eat fewer cooked starches - Some foods, such as chips and crackers are considered "sticky" because they include cooked starches. These kinds of foods cling or stick to teeth.

Chew sugarless gum - Chewing sugarless gum can help eliminate food particles caught between teeth after a meal and also helps prevent plaque build-up by stimulating saliva production.

Don't eat sweets between meals - Between-meal snackers not only have an overall longer period when their teeth are exposed to acid, they don't eat other foods with the snack to moderate the effects of the sugar.

Avoid sucking on hard candies or mints - Candies have enough sugar to increase the acid produced by bacteria to decay levels. Use sugarless varieties as a substitute.

Stop early tooth decay in infants - Baby bottle tooth decay results when babies routinely fall asleep with bottles filled with sugary liquids such as milk, formula and juice in their mouths. This is the biggest oral health problem in babies.


UK Dentistry
Offers complete evaluation, diagnosis and clinical management of dental problems in pediatric and adult patients. Departments include adult and pediatric dentistry, endodontics, oral pathology, oral surgery, oral radiology, periodontics, prosthodontics and restorative dentistry.
Appointments and information

American Dental Hygienists' Association
444 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 3400
Chicago IL 60611

International Food Information Council Foundation
1100 Connecticut Ave., NW. 
Suite 430
Washington DC 20036

American Dental Association
211 E. Chicago Ave.
Chicago IL 60611-2678

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda MD 20892-2190

American Academy of Periodontology
737 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 800
Chicago IL 60611-6660

Kentucky Board of Dentistry
10101 Linn Station Road
Suite 540
Louisville KY 40223

National Agricultural Library
Food and Nutrition Information Center
10301 Baltimore Ave.
Beltsville MD 20705-2351  

Choose MyPlate
USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
3101 Park Center Drive
Room 1034
Alexandria VA 22302-1594

Page last updated: 8/21/2017 4:39:17 PM