Despite the importance of food, for most people, not much thought and planning goes into their diet. This is a risky way to live as food is the body’s fuel, and what you eat directly affects your health. When it comes to the body’s nutritional needs, teeth are just as susceptible as other organs.
Good nutrition is vital for oral health. However, the two have a unique cause-and-effect relationship. Malnutrition can cause oral health issues. When this happens, you may be unable to eat properly, thus causing further malnutrition.
Teeth require different vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients to grow well and remain healthy. Some include Calcium, Iron, and vitamins A, D, C, B1, B2, B6, and B12. The absence of such nutrients affects tooth development, mineralization, and gum development, among others. This leaves your teeth susceptible to decay-causing bacteria and acid. Also, it will be more difficult for your immune system to ward off infections in the mouth, increasing the risk of developing periodontal disease.
Despite the misguided notion that malnutrition is associated with poverty and starvation, it’s not necessarily the case. One may seem like they’re in good shape or even obese but still be malnourished. This is because one may consume many empty calories that translate to mass gain but have no nutritional value. This is a form of malnutrition referred to as hidden hunger, which affects many Australians.
Dental caries and malnutrition remain an intertwined global health challenge, especially among children in indigenous and remote populations. What’s worse is that nutritional challenges seem to be increasing. This is primarily due to the global nutrition transition where processed, low-quality, high-fat, carbohydrate-dense, high-sugar foods lacking in micronutrients have replaced traditional diets. Along with a dramatic increase in malnutrition, it has also led to a dramatic rise in chronic disease and obesity.