Guest Blog: Dr. Viviana Velez
FOOD TO OPTIMIZE DENTAL HEALTH FOR EXPECTING MOTHERS AND BABIES
As we all know, nutrition is a fundamental factor in dental health. Through eating and proper nutrition, we are targeting the best overall body health. Dental health assures proper functioning and health of our teeth and gums and daily nutrition habits play a relevant role. It is pertinent to emphasize that dental health begins from pregnancy because in this first trimester stage (7th pregnancy week), 80 % of calcium transferred to the baby will help the first teeth form, that is why the pregnant women must provide the baby with enough quantity of calcium (1,000 mg per day) and other necessary nutrients. Malnutrition brings a significant deficiency in the appearance of the first teeth (deciduous teeth) and therefore they will be vulnerable to cavities because they have a lower calcium content. For the mother and later the baby, it is important to balance the diet with varied food, high in proteins, iron, calcium and phosphorus; the last one interacts with the calcium to form the bones and teeth. It should be noted that the lack of vitamin D affects the order in which the teeth appear into the mouth, and a low consumption or level of causes a deficiency in their structure, support and function. Vitamin C keeps gum tissue strong and vitamin K controls the loss of blood, both of them keep the gums healthy. Fluoride is recognized for its high anticariogenic potential, chemically, it acts replacing the hydroxide ion of hydroxyapatite crystal of the dental enamel forming fluorapatite. Nowadays, fluoride is found in drinking water (0.7 - 1.2 ppm), in fluorides salt and in other products of massive use like milk and drinks. Consequently, too much calcium intake poses additional problems such as provoking a dental fluorosis (enamel hypoplasia). In addition, we cannot put aside the consumption of vegetable fats; these seem to reduce the cariogenic (cavity forming) activities in foods. An obvious explanation is that fats make a protective barrier on the tooth surface and at the same time they round carbohydrates, avoiding their availability to the opportunistic bacteria. Some fatty acids have an antimicrobial power which generates an impact in the process of formation of bacterial plaque. In the same way fruits such as the apple, pear and banana help us to a maintain a natural and healthy teeth cleanliness.
In summary, as an expecting mother, nutrition is important to not only the mother but also the baby with respect to overall oral health. Try to get plenty of calcium and other key nutrients, as well as vitamin C, D and vitamin K. Fruits and vegetables are also excellent choices are part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Dr. Viviana Velez is a Dentist with an interest in prevention and overall oral health with focus on children, adolescents, pregnant mothers, special needs and terminal illnesses. She graduated from Universidad San Gregorio in Portoviejo, Ecuador in 2010, and has been working for the past few years in Rural Care as part of the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health.