Digestive Disorders And Tooth Loss

Tooth_LossIf you think tooth loss is a problem that you don’t have to worry about until you’re retired, you may be in for a surprise. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, Americans aged 35-49  have an average of 2.5 missing teeth, and those aged 50-64 have an average of 5.3 missing teeth. By age 65, a quarter of Americans have lost all of their permanent teeth.

One of the biggest health challenges to result from tooth loss is the inability to chew food properly. Those with fewer natural teeth tend to eat “softer” foods, which can also be higher in sugar and fat, and lower in fiber and nutrients. Low-fiber diets can cause problems with constipation and intestinal disorders such as diverticular disease. Poorly chewed food can be hard to swallow, leading to problems with gas and distension. The loss of ability to consume foods that are nutrient dense can lead to malnutrition – which can happen even if a person is gaining weight. It becomes harder to eat foods that would strengthen the remaining teeth, such as firm-crunchy vegetables like apples, celery and carrots, and that leads to a greater risk of additional tooth loss and more digestive distress.

There are several strategies that can be helpful in correcting or preventing tooth loss and the digestive disorders they can cause.

  1. If you have most of your natural teeth, commit yourself to eating nutritious foods that will help keep them healthy – including calcium-enriched dairy products, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
  2. If you are in danger of losing all of your teeth, consider a dental implant solution like the All-on-4 system rather than traditional dentures. Research indicates that All-on-4 overdentures provide better comfort, stability and ease of chewing.
  3. If you’re having uncomfortable digestive symptoms, don’t forget to talk to your physician about your dental status – the solution may be one that involves your dentist’s input or assistance.

“Tooth loss is more than unsightly and inconvenient,” says Dr. Carol Ford, who practices cosmetic dentistry in central Phoenix. “It is a major factor in many diseases, including digestive disorders. Your dentist can help find a solution that preserves both your oral and your digestive health!”

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