How can I Prevent Tooth Decay?
Special dietary restrictions, frequent brushing and washing, and regular trips to the dentist can keep tooth decay at bay.
Tooth Decay Diet
One way to avoid tooth decay is to be careful what you put in your mouth – in other words, watch the foods you eat.
It’s best to avoid sugary or starchy foods. You should also make sure to get plenty of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D in your diet. Supplements are a good way to get these nutrients, and so is milk. However, milk contains sugars as well.
Fruits have many benefits for people with lupus, but should be eaten sparingly (and teeth should be brushed afterwards) due to their high sugar and acid content. This is (unfairly enough) especially true for healthy, antioxidant-rich fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, lemons, and oranges. Dried fruits have a lot of fiber, but often are cured with sugar, making them a poor alternative. Better alternatives include low-sugar, high-antioxidant fruits such as gac fruit, eggplant (yes, it’s a fruit!) and papaya. Tomato is also a low-sugar choice, but note that it is acidic.
Sugary drinks such as sodas and lemonade should be avoided, along with sugared gums and acidic drinks like coffee and tea. Sugarless gums are actually good, however, since they nudge the salivary glands to produce more saliva and can help prevent dry mouth.
Taking Care of Your Teeth
Sometimes, it can be hard to find the “spoons” to brush and floss twice a day. But people with lupus may want to consider brushing and flossing after every meal. Keeping teeth clean prevents tooth decay and reduces all of the risks of infection and inflammation that tooth decay can bring. Many dentists recommend frequent rinses with a non-drying fluoride mouthwash, also about three times a day.
They also recommend an alternative to flossing called a “Waterpik” which uses jets of water to dislodge food particles and plaque from teeth. This helps keep the moisture level up and washes out the mouth in addition to the benefits of flossing.
Visiting the Dentist
Keeping the mouth and its teeth clean can make emergency visits to the dentist less necessary, but even people with lupus who can keep up this intensive ritual should visit the dentist 4 times a year.
Dentists can check on the status of teeth and gums and can clean deeper and more thoroughly. They can also offer sealants, which protect vulnerable teeth, and fluoride, which strengthens the teeth.
Dentists can also help keep track of and treat other oral symptoms of lupus, such as mouth sores, and can check for head and neck cancers. People with lupus are more likely to get all forms of cancer, which you can read about on the Health and Human Services website.