Stress related to dental disease


There is a vicious circle between stress and dental disease. When someone is “stressed out” they tend to eat unhealthily. They are likely to consume more sugary foods, for example. So while the main causes of periodontal disease are stress and poor oral hygiene, another problem leading to gum disease may be poor diet. It is the missing link to the prevention and treatment of gum disease, and it is almost always ignored.

Diet is important in controlling periodontal disease because bacteria in the mouth use sugars for energy and reproduction. When stress causes your oral hygiene to become poor, and your diet is high in sugar, more bacteria are produced. The higher bacterial level will then inflame the gums and may increase plaque formation in gum disease. If we consume a high sugar diet, the body will produce more bacteria in the mouth. Stress, combined with such a sugar diet, adds acid to our saliva and will show its results in gum disease. Studies have shown that it is more harmful to eat sugar-containing foods between meals than it is to eat them with meals. And we know that stress may result in us wanting to snack frequently.

We need vitamins and minerals in our diet. Vitamins help regulate our metabolism. A diet high in fibre and fruits and vegetables will help reverse gum problems naturally. Most important, we need the fats and proteins that provide the energy that helps build the cells of our body. To reverse gum disease naturally, we must alter our diet and discipline ourselves to maintain healthier eating patterns.

In isolated areas where groups of Amerindian people live, it is known that their teeth and gums are in a healthy state. I worked in both the North and South Rupununi for a long time and I know that these groups do not follow what we consider proper oral hygiene, yet they have healthy mouths. Why? They eat live foods and lead simple, stress-free lives. If these people came to live here in the city, their teeth and gums would start to show disease states that would be due to the processed foods that we eat.

People who are obese and eat sugary foods have a higher susceptibility to gum disease than those who eat a balanced diet. Soft and sticky food (like nutrition bars), which tend to remain in the grooves of the teeth, are also culprits and can lead to tooth and gum problems. It is not the vitamin content but the natural sugars such as honey in these nutritional bars that get stuck in the grooves of your teeth.

It is true that what we are is what we eat? Yes! I hope that you will begin to eat a balanced diet and try to consume the recommended daily allowances of nutrients.
The bone surrounding the teeth needs attention given to it that is equal to that given to other bones in the body. Vitamin A is needed for the formation of this bone.

Vitamin A deficiency in the mouth can show up as thin enamel, chalky patches on your teeth, decreased tooth growth, retarded eruption, malpositioned teeth, soft teeth, dry mouth, and defective dentin formation because it can decrease the activity of new cells. On the other hand, excessive consumption of vitamin A can result in a toxic condition characterised by itching skin, gum disease (gingivitis), and irritability. Other physical symptoms may manifest, such as poor night vision, lack of appetite and vigour, bladder stones, and hyperthyroidism.

Too much or too little can affect your teeth and gums. Eating foods such as the following, in moderation, will help you to heal your mouth and reverse your gum condition. The soft foods containing vitamin A are easier on the teeth are foods like apricot and cantaloupes. Harder foods include carrots, broccoli, and celery. Additional foods containing vitamin A are butter, cabbage, chives, egg yolk and milk.

If you have a vitamin B deficiency, your tongue may show some early symptoms of enlarged taste buds (bumps on the side of your tongue) at the front and the side, with the taste buds in the back of your tongue becoming enlarged later on. You may also notice deep fissures and grooves down the centre of the tongue. Various foods fit in different vitamin B groups. Foods that are high in vitamin B include mushrooms, algae, yeast, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.

Thiamin was the first vitamin discovered; this is why it is designated as vitamin B1. Symptoms of a severe deficiency of vitamin B1 include a burning sensation on the tongue, loss of taste, unusual sensitivity of the inner lining (the cheeks and soft tissue) of the mouth, and cracks and sores in the corner of the mouth. Cracks in the corner of the mouth, called “angular cheilosis,” are common. Foods rich in vitamin B1 that can help you avoid such symptoms are wheat, oatmeal, legumes such as peanuts, and peas. Meat, fish, fruit and milk also contain thiamin.

Vitamin B2 is involved in the production of energy through the conversion of nutrients in food. Commonly, symptoms of Vitamin B2 deficiency are lips that may crack and become painful and ulcerated. They may appear redder or whiter than usual. The corners of the mouth may also crack. Contact with food or drink may cause pain or a burning sensation on the tongue. Antidepressants decrease the positive effect of this vitamin, so especially be watchful if you are being treated for depression.

Niacin (vitamin B3) is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. It acts as a coenzyme (catalyst) in the process that requires energy for normal cell function. Vitamin B3 deficiency results in pellagra, a disease characterised by a swollen tongue, inflammation of the mouth, diarrhoea, and small red eruptions on the back of the hands. Good sources of niacin are meats, turkey and other poultry, fish and peanuts.