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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 the first thing Joel Knapp, D.D.S., of Hendersonville, Tennessee, does. "First, I take 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 was 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 since. and 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 stimulate 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 a lot of stress. There's a lot of gingivitis among people taking exams in college, and among people getting a divorce."

Using Vitamins

Dr. Knapp treats these problems with good nutrition rather than his drill. "Basically, I try to get them on a good, well-balanced diet, with vitamin supplementation - mainly multivitamins. In most cases the patients need to take vitamin C and vitamin E, and maybe some A and D. For the people with stress problems, I get them on vitamin B complex, C and E. I get them to eat a high protein diet, low carbohydrates - and wonderful things happen.

"You know, periodontal disease - disease of the gums - is the major source of tooth loss in people over 40. so we have to pay special attention to the health of the gums. Cyanosis - easily bleeding gums - is something that has to be taken care of right away. As far as supplements go, I get them on B complex and C. But it's most important to find out the diet and take a long health history to make sure there are no systemic problems like diabetes or hypoglycemia.

"Teeth can also be lost if the part of the jaw holding them in, the aveolar ridge, deteriorates. Usually, people who have periodontal disease have what is called a periodontal profile, which shows up on hair and blood analysis. They're low in zinc, iron, copper, potassium, magnesium and manganese. If I find this to be the case, I put them on a supplement and check them again later on, to see if the minerals are balanced yet. I also work on their 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 for 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."

Next:  Calcium vs Sugar

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OraMedia Home  |  Articles on Gum Disease  |  Newsletter Archive
Dr. Nara Interview:  Freedom From Dental Disease

Healthy Teeth and Gums 3 Steps to Acheiving Proper Oral Health
Let your Teeth Heal Themselves
Healthy Teeth in Children
How to Eliminate the Dentist From Your Life
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