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Cavities and gum disease are emerging as important indicators of an unhealthy diet, which predicts the future onset of many diseases.
While most of us know what cavities are, many are unaware that gum disease is caused by inflammation of the gum tissue and progressive loss of bone around the teeth, which leads to tooth loss.
Researchers are investigating correlations between cavities, gum disease, heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, certain cancers, bacterial pneumonia, and even adverse pregnancy outcomes. Many studies have already shown a correlation between poor oral health and poor overall health.
A Korean study published in January of this year (2017) showed an association between underweight individuals and tooth loss in adults. The low weight status of these individuals is thought to be associated with inadequate intake of essential nutrients that are important to maintaining the health of teeth and gums. In addition, the scientific literature shows that well nourished elders have significantly more functional teeth in comparison to elders at risk of malnutrition.
Meanwhile, other studies have found that obesity is also a risk factor for gum disease. The research indicates that deficiencies in key nutrients as well as excesses in other nutrients contribute to problems with oral health.
Interestingly, the gingival tissue of the mouth has one of the highest turnover rates in the human body. Therefore, an adequate supply of amino acids and other nutrients is critical to maintaining it.
There is growing evidence that people with periodontal diseases (gum disease) are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease. It has been observed that loss of teeth is more severe among patients with high blood pressure, diabetes and coronary artery disease.
Local inflammation within the gums has always been a known cause of periodontal disease. However, systemic inflammation is now known to be an important factor as well.
Research shows that dietary patterns that cause inflammation within the body result in prevalent tooth loss. These diets have been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease in the adult population of the United States. Conversely, anti-inflammatory diets are associated with fewer missing teeth and better cardiovascular health.
It is clear that the presence of cavities and gum disease are associated with poor nutrition and poor health. Unfortunately, the absence of these does not necessarily indicate good nutrition and good health. It can take time before the consequences of an unhealthy diet become obvious.
Of course, smoking and oral hygiene are also significant factors in oral health; however, the importance of nutrition cannot be overlooked.
Science is proving that your smile can say a lot more about your health than you realize.
For more information or to speak with a dietitian call 1-844-790-4574 or visit