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How Nutrition Impacts Oral Health in Seniors

Most people know a balanced diet is essential for their health and well-being. However, did you know that what one eats can also impact their oral health? As people age, their bodies undergo several changes affecting their teeth and gums.

According to an El Dorado Hills dentist, aging weakens the immune system, making it more difficult to fight off infections. As a result, older adults will likely experience receding gums, making their teeth more vulnerable to decay and tooth loss. Additionally, many seniors take medication that can dry out the mouth and increase the risk of developing serious oral health issues. Since the aging process makes it more challenging to maintain good oral health, countless seniors don’t experience a better quality of life. 

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The Link Between Nutrition and Oral Health

Health experts confirm the relationship between nutrition and oral health in seniors. Research shows poor nutrition can increase the risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss. This risk is even higher for seniors, as aging weakens their immune systems.

Poor nutrition can negatively impact an older individual’s oral health. For example, a diet high in sugar and processed foods can increase their risk of cavities and other oral health problems. Additionally, sugary and acidic drinks, like soda and fruit juice, can erode tooth enamel and lead to tooth decay.

Alternatively, a diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help support the immune system, promote healing, and reduce the risk of oral health problems, such as tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.

Key Nutrients for Senior Oral Health

Since nutrition plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy mouth for older adults, they can achieve good oral health through a healthy diet.

While calcium is essential for building strong bones and teeth, it can also help prevent tooth decay. Moreover, vitamin D is also crucial because it helps the body absorb calcium. Vitamin C is essential for optimal gum health because it helps prevent gum disease and promotes healing. Lastly, B vitamins, particularly B12, can help seniors avoid oral sores and dry mouth.

What Seniors Can Do to Maintain Good Oral Health Through Nutrition

Eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods

In a senior oral health diet, foods should include spinach, kale, and other leafy greens that are rich in calcium and other important vitamins and minerals. Dairy products, such as milk and yogurt, are also excellent sources of calcium. Citrus fruits, such as grapefruits and oranges, are high in vitamin C.

In addition, salmon and other fatty fish are good sources of vitamin D. Furthermore, whole grains and lean proteins, such as chicken and turkey, can also help maintain teeth and gum health. 

Drink plenty of water

Drinking water throughout the day can flush out bacteria and help keep the mouth hydrated. Drinking water after meals and snacks is especially important to help wash away food particles and prevent cavities.   

Limit sugary and acidic drinks

Seniors should avoid sugary and acidic drinks, which can lead to enamel erosion and cavities. Instead, it’s best to opt for water or unsweetened beverages. 

Chew Sugar-Free Gum

Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acids in the mouth. Since chewing sugar-free gum can stimulate saliva production, it can promote better oral health. 

Happy patient with his El Dorado Hills Dentist

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