Dear Dr. Blonz: Do you have any nutritional advice for helping someone avoid the need for dental work? I get all stressed out every time I go to the dentist. — C.F., Phoenix, Arizona
Dear C.F.: The nutrients needed for healthy teeth are similar to those needed for healthy bones — and for health in general. These include calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, vitamin D and trace elements, including minimal amounts of fluoride.
A good diet of vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy and other protein sources can easily provide these things. If dairy isn’t on the menu, then mineral-rich leafy greens and other foods will need to be there. A multivitamin or multimineral can also help as a supplement, but there is no magic there; extra levels of a nutrient don’t make it “work” better, and supplements should never be thought of as a replacement for a healthful diet. Interestingly, our teeth begin to form during the second month of our mothers’ pregnancies — another reason to ensure that maternal diets have a rich supply of essential nutrients.
Regarding your comment about preventing the need for dental work, I recall a scene from the 1992 movie “Prelude to a Kiss,” starring Meg Ryan and Alec Baldwin. On the way to the altar to marry Baldwin’s character, Ryan’s character kisses an elderly gentleman, causing their spirits to switch bodies. Everything gets sorted out near the end, when their spirits return to their proper places. During the final scene, the elderly gentleman is asked, in light of his brief re-taste of youth, what he would do if he could live his life over again. He says he wouldn’t change a thing, except that he would floss a bit more.