Nutrition

The mouth may be described as a “mirror of systemic health or disease.” This website gives the reader an overview of nutritional deficiencies that can be recognized in and around the oral cavity, and common dental diseases: dental caries, gingivitis and periodontitis. One can recognize the manifestations of these deficiencies and diseases, consider their causes, and seek early treatment to prevent further compromise of nutrition status; in turn promoting optimal nutrition, oral and overall health.

Oral health problems disproportionately affect the aging; who are particularly vulnerable to oral infections. A synergistic relationship exists between nutrition and oral health/disease. Nutrients are crucial to the growth, development, and maintenance of tissues, efficiency of the immune system, prevention of cell damage and increased resistance to many infectious diseases. Nutrition and oral health associations are complex, with nutrition having both local and systemic influences on the oral cavity. Systemic diseases with oral manifestations may also lead to nutrient deficiencies due to impaired chewing and swallowing, and pain. Oral diseases may further negatively affect nutritional status if the person cannot eat properly.
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Nutrient deficiencies may contribute to abnormal color, topography, size and sensations in the mouth. Abnormal oral findings may reflect oral manifestations of a multitude of systemic diseases, medications, nutrient deficiencies, or distinctive oral cavity disorders that can interfere with dietary intake. The B-complex vitamins, such as niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, folic acid, and B12, are co-factors in energy metabolism and needed in DNA and RNA synthesis.  This makes them indispensable for tissue maintenance and the production of new cells during development and healing.  Vitamin B deficiencies can lead to the loss of the integrity of the oral mucosa, including stomatitis, angular cheilitis, and glossitis.

Abnormal findings include; glossodynia and glossopyrosis (painful and burning tongue and soft tissue), dysgeusia (altered taste), angular cheilitis (painful, dry cracked corners of the mouth), angular stomatitis (painful splits at the corners of the mouth) and cheilosis (dry scaling of the lips and corners of the mouth). Cheilosis is a common finding in riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B6 deficiency states, and may cooperatively reflect riboflavin’s role in vitamin B6 and tryptophan (which is converted to niacin) metabolism. Angular stomatitis may result from iron deficiency anemia, a fungal infection, lip-sucking and/or dehydration. A painful, inflamed, magenta colored, atrophic, smooth tongue may result from a riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, or folate deficiency.