When people think of oral health and nutrition, they often think of minerals – like calcium and magnesium. While these minerals are certainly important, several vitamins are also essential for maintaining healthy teeth and oral tissues. Here's a look at three that you definitely need in your diet in order to avoid excessive trips to the dentist.
Without vitamin D, your tooth enamel will weaken. That is because vitamin D plays a role in laying down the calcium in your teeth, making them stronger and more resistant to decay. Without enough vitamin D, you may also develop gum disease or periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss as it progresses. Talk with your periodontist if you suspect an issue.
Vitamin D is manufactured by your body when you are exposed to sunlight, so spending a little time each day in the sun is a good way to ensure you get enough. If it's often overcast where you live, or if you cannot get outside for other reasons, pay special attention to your diet and make sure you're eating vitamin D-rich foods like fortified milk, breakfast cereals, and fatty fish.
You've probably heard of sailors developing scurvy when they spend months out at sea with no vitamin C. Even if you're not terribly deficient in vitamin C, your gums can begin to show symptoms similar to those of scurvy. They may bleed easily, feel sore to the touch, and become overly red.
Getting enough vitamin C in your diet is easy. All you have to do is eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Oranges, red peppers, sweet potatoes, and other orange-colored produce tends to be the highest in this nutrient, but almost all fruits and vegetables contain some vitamin C.
If you've ever had a mouth ulcer, you know how painful these little sores can be. If you're developing them frequently, it could be that you're deficient in vitamin B12, which plays a role in maintaining healthy gum and cheek tissue by helping your body fight off oral bacteria and viruses.
Good sources of vitamin B12 include fish, meats, and dairy products. If you're following a vegan diet, you will have a hard time keeping your vitamin B12 levels up, and should talk to your doctor about including a vitamin B12 supplement in your regimen.
If you get enough vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin B12 in your diet, you'll be one step closer to excellent oral health. Talk to your dentist if you'd like to learn more about how your nutritional intake affects your gums and teeth.