Nutritional Notes


The Importance of Mastication


                The first consideration in nutrition is the proper mastication of foods. This phase of feeding has always been of particular interest to dentists. In fact it has been their bread and butter. For the body to efficiently utilize the foods we eat they must first be finely ground in the mouth and thoroughly mixed with saliva. This is essential for carbohydrates because the pryolin in the saliva starts the process of changing starches to sugars so that they can be absorbed. Meats need less chewing because no digestion of protein takes place in the mouth. From a health standpoint the full complement of teeth should exist in every mouth and it is important that dentists stress this fact to every patient.

Proper mastication greatly increases the amount of food assimilated and eliminates to a large extent indigestion. Dr. J. Neil Leitch says “eat thoroughly, thoughtfully, thankfully.” One third of the food people eat would be sufficient if they would chew it thoroughly. If one would stop to realize that finely ground food is much more easily absorbed we would have less nutritional disturbances. If the proper foods are selected and masticated thoroughly better health would be had, to say nothing of the increased enjoyment of eating. Some years ago Fletcherization of food (extremely careful mastication) was a popular phrase and should be revived.

In the past few years scientific investigators have put the responsibility of educating the public to adequate nutritional needs in the hands of the dentist, and why not? Since the birth of modern dentistry, dentists have been striving to give the public the most efficient masticatory apparatus they could provide. Dentists have extolled the dangers to bodily health that result from a crippled dentition and diseased teeth. What group could more effectively spread the gospel of the newer knowledge of nutrition and dietetics, than the dental profession?

Many dentists feel that the study of nutrition and dietetics is a difficult study and that it is beyond them to comprehend the fundamentals thoroughly enough to impart the knowledge to their patients. Some others believe that the science has not advanced sufficiently to make it practical. Both groups are entirely wrong. Neither group has given it sufficiently thought to realize its simplicity, practibility and necessity.

Let us briefly break down NUTRITION, DIETETICS and the necessary FOOD ELEMENTS. In the first place NUTRITION is the sum total of bodily processes whereby we receive and utilize the food materials necessary for the maintenance of life. DIETETICS is not a synonym for NUTRITION, it is the scientific study of NUTRITION.  In the study of DIETETICS one must consider the food necessities of the body, in our case from a dental standpoint. One must consider the individual requirements from the point of view of vocation, conditions of life, and likes and dislikes.

Nutrition cannot be understood without a knowledge of dietetics and vice versa. In nutrition we must understand that food is taken into the body by way of the mouth, some elements partly digested in the mouth, that the stomach is a storage place, that further digestion takes place in the intestines, that absorption occurs only in the intestines. We must understand the action of the digestive secretions and endocrine glands.

In the study of dietetics we find what necessary food elements are required for dental health and physical maintenance. They are classified as follows, proteins, carbohydrates, fats. These are the three main factors that make up our foods. In addition there must be present the important minerals, calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, copper and iodine. Last but not the least, the vitamins. Vitamins A, B, C, D. By becoming familiar with fundamentals of nutrition and dietetics dentists can be of inestimable service to patients by imparting knowledge that will aid them to maintain dental and physical health through the proper assimilation of necessary foods.

Next month, Nutrition and Dental Health will discuss under Nutritional Notes the details of nutrition and dietetics.