Oral Health

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Plant-based diets may help prevent oral cancer as well as gum disease. Fruits and vegetables contain a vast variety of phytonutrients that promote oral health.  For example, an apple a day has been linked with less oral cancer. The consumption of black raspberries may result in the regression of precancerous lesions in the mouth.   Cranberries have anti-proliferative effects on cancer in vitro. Within just a few weeks of eating a healthier diet, our taste buds may adjust so that healthier foods may begin to taste better. For those eating a plant-based diet, vitamin B12 supplementation is essential for oral health.

Although the consumption of citrus and sour fruits may promote the erosion of tooth enamel, rinsing with water after consuming acidic foods appears to be a good preventive measure. Swishing with water may also protect tooth enamel from the natural acids found in beverages such as hibiscus tea. Rinsing with green tea may help prevent the growth of plaque bacteria without the genetic damage associated with chlorhexidine antiseptic mouthwashes. Yet children should be careful to limit their tea drinking, as the overconsumption of green tea during childhood may increase risk of dental fluorosis– or discoloration- due to its natural fluoride content. The antioxidants from lemonbalm tea may be protective against radiation-induced oxidative stress.

Gargling is known to soothe sore throats, but in addition, gargling may reduce the risk of the common cold. Oral lichen planus, where the immune system starts attacking the lining of the mouth, has been successfully treated with the common plant, purslane. Amalgam fillings in our teeth contain mercury and release a certain amount every day; eating just a single can of tuna a week, though, may be the equivalent to having 29 fillings in your mouth. 

Bioaccumulation leads to the contamination of dairy and meat products with persistent organic pollutants, which may be linked to gum disease.  Research reveals that cow’s milk may also be linked to recurring canker sores.  Poultry workers have been found to have excess cancers of the mouth and other body parts.  For accessible cancers such as those of the mouth, the curcumin in turmeric may be topically applied to offer relief from the itching and oozing of recurrent, ulcerative lesions.

Topic summary contributed by Emily.


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