By Dr. AJ Soprani
There is no perfect diet that will keep your teeth from all harm, but what you eat can have an effect on the health of your teeth and gums. Eating right has benefits on two fronts: by supplying your body with the right nutrients, and by limiting the foods that promote bacterial growth. Helping his patients build strong teeth is one of Dr. Soprani’s main goals. As if it was yesterday, he still remembers one of his professors from NYU saying, “Teeth are essentially a kind of bone. They are harder and more durable because they are on the outside, but the same nutrients that promote a strong skeleton promote strong teeth.”
The body constantly takes calcium from bones and teeth and replaces it with new supplies. You should make sure that your body has plenty on hand. Getting enough calcium in the diet can seem difficult for those who don’t want to get too much fat. Good sources of calcium without too much fat are nonfat and low-fat milk, nonfat and low-fat yogurt and some dark-green leafy vegetables as well. Even though calcium-fortified orange juice provides another source of calcium, it also has a high sugar content, which feeds bacteria found in plaque. Dr. Soprani says that patients do not have to avoid orange juice as long as they take measures to avoid the acid and sugar in orange juice from sitting in their mouth longer than it’s necessary. For instance, using a straw helps keep orange juice and other acidic drinks away from their teeth. Also, drinking it faster rather than sipping it slowly helps prevent the acid and sugar from damaging the teeth.
When a cavity advances deep into the tooth, it may produce increased sensitivity to foods that are cold, hot or sweet. But not all cavities will cause a toothache. If they are small or progressing slowly, they may only be detectable by a dentist before they cause pain.
Not visiting the dentist at least twice a year, not having a balanced diet and not taking proper care of your teeth might lead you to develop tooth decay. Without proper treatment, that tooth decay might turn into a cavity, and potentially into an expensive procedure like a root canal, crown or implant. “Routine checkups, cleanings and fillings can save patients thousands of dollars,” says Dr. Soprani.
Research carried out by the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Resources Center concludes the number of dental emergency room (ER) visits in the United States jumped from 1.1 million in 2000 to 2.1 million in 2010. The study also cited an independent 2009 study by the National Emergency Department Sample showing that 41.8 percent of all ER visits for dental conditions were the result of dental caries (the disease that causes cavities).
Dr. Soprani recommends the use of sealants for children and adults. A sealant is a protective plastic coating that is applied to the chewing surface of back teeth, sealing off the grooves that tend to collect food. The sealant protects tooth enamel from plaque and acid. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends sealants for all school-age children. Sealants last up to 10 years before they need to be replaced, though they need to be checked regularly to ensure they are still intact. Do not wait for tooth plaque to start forming for you to see your dentist. Call your dentist now and have your teeth checked. Your oral health is important to your overall health.
Dr. AJ Soprani is a doctor of dental surgery. His practice is located at 155 Main Street, Suite 400, Danbury, CT. If you have any questions relating to this topic, you can contact AJ Dental Group at 203-587-7999 or email Dr. Soprani himself at Dr.Soprani@ajdentalgroup.com.