What happens in the mouth when an individual has a GI disorder, nutritional problems and other complications that can impact oral health?

A common denominator for health in general is good nutrition for the adequate distribution of vitamins and minerals to every area and organ of the body. This is a serious and chronic challenge with patients suffering gastrointestinal diseases.

Why is nutrition so important for the mouth?

Good nutrition is paramount for growth, development, and function of the teeth and tissues of the mouth. Nutrition is also our primary defense against illness and infectious diseases. With GI disorders, there are often significant losses of essential vitamins needed for oral health.

Some examples of oral complications related to vitamin deficiencies are the following:

  • Vitamins D and A are extremely important for the salivary glands. Without an adequate amount of these vitamins, the glands can suffer atrophy. Some medications can adversely affect the salivary glands resulting in “dry mouth” which is in itself a serious problem in oral health.
  • Calcium is essential for bone density. Healthy bones are required to hold your teeth in place. The upper and lower jaws are the foundation with which your teeth are mounted. The result of severe calcium deficiencies in the mouth is the loss of teeth. The bones supporting the teeth reabsorb and shrink reducing the ability to hold or retain the teeth. It also causes the breakdown of the tooth density as well.
  • Vitamin C is important for the health of the connective tissue of the gums and mucosa of the mouth. Other vitamins such as zinc, omega 4 fats and folic acid are important to help lower disease.

Malnutrition does not cause periodontal disease, but it does contribute to it. A study has surfaced that found severely nutritionally deficinet starving children in Africa with periodonal disease. This leads some scientists to believe that malnutrition contributes to periodontal disease.

Poor nutrition affects the immune syseems, which means it impairs the ability to help combat infections. If periodontal disease is present, it will be difficult to treat and control.