Importance of Nutrition in Orthodontics


Mouth is affected by a complex system of forces generated by muscular and respiratory functioning. Much of this force generates as a result of masticatory activities that are dependant on the physical consistency of the food that is eaten.

Soon after birth, the new born learns that food results from the action of sucking, followed by a feeling of well being. As a result of the sucking and pressing actions, that are associated with breast feeding, the baby develops the earliest important functional influences on both the thrust and physiologic growth of the mandible. In edentulous infants the centric occlusion and the control of lateral and protrusive movements are permitted and exercised by the interplay of the coronoid apophysis and the zygomatic arches. Breast nursing also aids greatly in developing the muscles of  the lips, cheeks, tongue, pharynx and palate. These muscles are later used in speech and as a result we see comparatively fewer speech problems in such children.

In animals , a soft diet doesn’t provide adequate stimulus for the proper mastication, resulting in narrower maxillary arches. Similar observations have been made in humans leading to ‘ arch collapse syndrome’.

Waugh, Klatsky and Fisher documented a direct relation between reduction in chewing power and demand made on supporting structures  leading to underdeveloped muscles of mastication and incidence of malocclusion.

Singh and Chawla (1994) conducted a study on the contribution of diet in malocclusion in north Indian population. They stated that occasional or no consumption of coarse  and fibrous food had a positive influence on the incidence of class II div 1 and skeletal type of malocclusions.

The diets of rural populations, which usually contain an abundance of raw vegetables offer adequate muscular stimulation and hence orthodontic problems. It thus appears that these changes to softer food caused unfavorable changes in muscle tone and a tendency for skeletal and dental problems to develop.

Effect of Nutrition on Teeth :

Nutrition is most important during the period of time when teeth are undergoing matrix formation and calcification. It was futher shown that these processes could be influenced by maternal, infant and childhood diet.

Under such circumstances the physical and chemical properties of the enamel could be altered in the direction of increased dental caries succeptibility. Since the formation of primary and permanent teeth begins in uterine life and continues until the twelfth year( except the thid molars), it is the responsibility of the dentist to advice regarding dental health in young children and pregnant mothers. Food stuffs rich in calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin A,C and D should be recommended.

The formative period of teeth can be divided into 3 segments; matrix formation, matrix calcification and pre eruptive maturation. Nutritional disturbances during matrix formation may manifest themselves in imperfect enamel formation. The enamel matrix being an epithelial tissue , is influenced by the  deficiency of vitamin A. deficiency of this vitamin results in atrophy of ameloblasts. The enamel that forms subsequently is hypoplastic and theoretically at least favours the accumulation of carbohydrates and microorganisms.

It is also well known that vitamin C is essential for the dentin and that initial dentin amrix formation must take place before enamel matrix formation can proceed. Consequently severe Vitamin c deficiency has had the secondary effect of producing enamel hypoplasia.

Now provided that enamel matrix formation has proceeded normally , a variety of situations may intervene to alter the enamel matrix calcification. For example, enamel hypoplasia can be produced by dietary deficiency of calcium and phosphorus. Another vitamin essential for enamel calcification is vitamin D. With adequate quantities of vitamin D the texture of forming enamel surface approaches perfection, but in deficiency hypoplastic changes are observed.   Studies have also shown that  Magnesium deficiencies lead to the development of Bruxism habit in individuals.