Dental health is more than just teeth and gums. Many people understand how a nutritional diet and healthy habits improve overall wellness. However, few realize the direct impact they have on oral health. Early childhood caries, tooth loss, oral lesions and periodontal infection (gum disease) are all highly preventable, as long as you have good dental hygiene, follow a nutritious diet and stop bad habits, like smoking. It also is important to visit with Dr. Abir Faraj every six months and seek counseling in areas that concern you.
What is Nutritional Counseling from the Dentist?
The link between dietary factors and poor oral health is complex, multi-factorial and varies by age. The focus of dietary counseling from the dentist is to reduce oral risks caused by a poor nutrition. It may be as simple as chair-side counseling during your appointment or as formal as having you record a week-long food log before returning for counseling. Specifically, those with recurrent decay, oral lesions, early childhood caries and denture patients should all seek nutritional counseling. It is difficult for a dentist to know when to start counseling with a patient about nutrition. So, it will more or less be up to you as a patient to start the conversation.
Nutritional Counseling by Age
Infants have specific nutritional requirements and their weight nearly triples in the first year. Initially, all they need is either breast milk or formula. Then around six months they gradually transition to solid foods. This also is when primary teeth begin to grow in and calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D help strengthen permanent crowns. You will not only need to start cleaning your baby’s teeth, but also paying better attention to their diet to prevent things like bottle rot and premature tooth loss.
Next, school-age children need healthy and substantial meals to maintain a healthy blood glucose level. Their appetites will vary and your child will begin to establish a lifelong relationship with food. As a parent or guardian, you can help by cooking healthy foods at mealtime and choosing healthy snacks. Cut back on frequent sweets and sodas as these are two of the leading culprits behind dental decay and gum disease.
Teenagers often have the worst diets and are the most difficult to counsel. Problems with weight control, hormones, stress and peer pressure all play a part in teens’ eating habits and disorders. When counseling teens about nutrition, it is important to educate with the use of visual aids displaying the adverse effects of soda and junk food on overall health and on their smiles.
Around the age of 30, adults often begin to feel the effects of a reduced basal metabolic rate (BMR) in conjunction with weight gain and calcium loss. They are often at a greater risk of gum disease, dry mouth and dental caries around existing fillings. To limit these risks, Dr. Faraj encourages adults to focus on only three mealtimes a day with only two additional snacks. She also advises you drink more water and follow meals with oral hygiene.
How Can a Dentist Help Me Stop Smoking?
The main purpose of smoking cessation counseling is to educate and inform patients on the hazards attributed to tobacco use as well as provide information and support to help patients quit. Practitioner’s advice to quit can be an important motivator. Though it often requires multiple attempts for long-term abstinence, it is possible. You must seek help, receive practical counseling and get support if you want to succeed. The dentist can provide many other resources like specialists and support groups to help you achieve your goals.
We invite you to initiate a conversation with Dr. Faraj regarding nutrition or smoking habits. At Novi Family Dentistry, we can provide counseling and other resources, like visual aids or brochures, to help you on your journey to better oral and overall health.