As holistic dentists, we try to make sure our patients understand how all aspects of their life relate to their oral health and dental care. It’s always important to take your diet into account when you’re considering reducing your risk of cavities and gum disease.
But it’s equally important to make sure you have a healthy diet when your body needs to heal from a procedure like getting dental implants. If you make sure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals necessary for bone regrowth and healing. Today we’ll talk about the vitamins you need, and in the future we’ll circle back to the question of minerals.
Vitamin A is a bit of a weird one for bone health. Its primary impact is to stimulate the production of osteoclasts–cells that break down your bone. This might not seem like something you want to do when you’re trying to regrow bone, but it’s vital. Removing old bone–especially bone that might have been hurt by the surgery–is an essential part of the healing process, and as it progresses, it paves the way for the building of new, strong, healthy bone.
The problem is that about half of all Americans have a shortage of vitamin A in their diet. So you probably need to increase your intake of vitamin A. But note that it’s possible to get too much vitamin A. To avoid this risk, add beta-carotene to your diet instead of vitamin A. This is a vitamin A precursor that your body can readily convert to vitamin A as necessary, but isn’t toxic. Fortunately, lots of great winter vegetables are high in beta carotene, such as sweet potato, winter squash, and kale.
Vitamin B comes in many forms, and three of these forms are important for bone growth: B6, B9, and B12. The situation for vitamin B is unfortunately similar to that for vitamin A, with nearly half of Americans being short on it in their diet.
The best sources of vitamins B6 and B12 are meats. But B9 is plentiful in dark green leafy vegetables.
Our bodies rely on vitamin D to be able to utilize calcium for the growth of bones and teeth. Our bodies can manufacture it, too, so you’d think there’d never be a shortage. Unfortunately, our bodies need exposure to sunlight to make vitamin D, and you know how often that happens in Rochester in winter. So, many of us experience seasonal vitamin D shortages.
To get vitamin D in your diet, it’s good to eat fatty fish, mushrooms, liver, and cheese.
Most people know about vitamin D, but vitamin K is something of a silent partner. It’s also critical for the body to use calcium.
Unfortunately, vitamin K shortage is perennial, not just seasonal. Good dietary sources of vitamin K are liver and dark green leafy vegetables. Green tea also contains vitamin K, so it’s not a bad idea to add that to your daily routine, especially since it’s also good for your teeth.
Most of us are familiar with vitamin C as helping immune system function, but it also plays a critical role in bone health. It helps stimulate the production and activation of bone-building cells, called osteoblasts. It also helps your body build the fibrous scaffolding that precedes the growth of new bone. And it helps make your gums strong so they can heal around your dental implants, too.
With all of us aware that vitamin C might help us fight off a cold, we tend to get a lot of it at this time of year. But if you’re looking to add more to your diet, many brightly colored fruits have high levels of it, including citrus, kiwi, mango, cantaloupe, and papaya.
You Are in Control
Although there are many aspects of the dental implant procedure that are in our hands, it’s important for you to remember that there are also many more that are in your hands. If you want to get the best results from your dental implants, you have to do what you can to promote these results. And eating a healthy, varied, nutritious diet is one of them.