Nutrition is Very Important
As you might expect, nutrition plays a big part in keeping your
teeth healthy. In fact, checking out a person's nutritional state is
thing Joel Knapp, D.D.S., of Hendersonville, Tennessee, does. "First, I
a blood pressure reading to get an idea of the condition of the blood
vessels. A different dental treatment has to be worked out for someone
with high blood pressure. I take a health history and get information
on digestion, allergies, previous illnesses, the person's personality
and fears regarding dental treatment - and diet.
"Then, especially if the person has a lot of problems, we do a
blood analysis, and I go over the test results with the person. We look
at calcium, phosphorus, glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides and show
what elements are high and which are low. Then I tell them what they
can do with their diet and carbohydrate metabolism."
Dr. Knapp, by the way, also teaches nutrition at nearby Volunteer
State Community College. and he has a good reason to believe in the
nutritional-preventive approach to dentistry. "I started getting into
this about two years ago.
My son was hyperactive. He had rapant tooth decay and here his father
a dentist! We took a hair analysis and found that his sodium was just
out-of-this-world high. and a lot of other things were high. So we got
off the salt, got off the lunch meat, got off the preservatives. We got
off the junk food and the sugar. But he still had cavities. Then we
suspected he might be allergic to
homogenized milk. Got him off the milk and he hasn't had a cavity
he's not hyperactive anymore. He went from just barely passing
kindergarten to making A's and B's now."
Just like he took Junk food out of his family's life, Dr. Knapp
recomments that his patients do the same. "I try to get them to take
the soft, high-carbohydrate foods out of the diet. Thjese foods get
impacted and cling to the teeth
and cause decay. Detergent foods that require vigorous chewing
the gums, clean the teeth and inhibit the formation of plaque. Sugar,
alcohol and caffeine must go. With these three things in the diet, it's
impossible to get the blood elements in balance.
"Some people may have a gum problem. Sometimes it's related to
stress. You'd be surprised what can come about because of stress. We've
had a lot of cases of gum disease that had no plaque at all. We found
out that the
person wasn't eating enough, wasn't getting enough sleep, and was under
lot of stress. There's a lot of gingivitis among people taking exams in
college, and among people getting a divorce."
Dr. Knapp treats these problems with good nutrition rather than
his drill. "Basically, I try to get them on a good, well-balanced diet,
vitamin supplementation - mainly multivitamins. In most cases the
need to take vitamin C and vitamin E, and maybe some A and D. For the
with stress problems, I get them on vitamin B complex, C and E. I get
to eat a high protein diet, low carbohydrates - and wonderful things
"You know, periodontal disease - disease of the gums - is the
source of tooth loss in people over 40. so we have to pay special
to the health of the gums. Cyanosis - easily bleeding gums - is
that has to be taken care of right away. As far as supplements go, I
them on B complex and C. But it's most important to find out the diet
take a long health history to make sure there are no systemic problems
diabetes or hypoglycemia.
"Teeth can also be lost if the part of the jaw holding them in,
aveolar ridge, deteriorates. Usually, people who have periodontal
have what is called a periodontal profile, which shows up on hair and
analysis. They're low in zinc, iron, copper, potassium, magnesium and
If I find this to be the case, I put them on a supplement and check
again later on, to see if the minerals are balanced yet. I also work on
diet because they should get their minerals from their food.
"Bruxism, or teeth grinding, also responds to nutritional therapy.
A woman came in here who had taken her son all over the place looking
some help. He had head X-rays and orthodontic advice, but he was still
grinding his teeth smooth, keeping the whole house awake at night. and
he would wake up tired, too, in the morning. I put this child on B
complex and dolomite, one tablet of each one hour before bed. The
bruxism was gone that very night."