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Could Lack of Access to Fresh, Healthy Foods in Sterling and Princeton Impact Oral Health?

Posted on: February 11th, 2024 | Categories: Diet, Local Dentistry

For anyone living in Sterling or Princeton the nearest source of fresh produce is likely Leominster or other nearby towns. Both Sterling and Princeton don’t have any grocery stores and some parts can likely be characterized as food deserts. Food deserts are urban or rural areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, are often discussed in the context of general health, obesity, and chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. However, a frequently overlooked aspect of living in a food desert is its profound impact on oral health. Let’s explore how limited access to fresh, nutritious food can lead to poor oral health outcomes, and what steps can be taken to mitigate these effects.

Impact of Food Deserts on Oral Health

  1. Limited Access to Fresh Produce: Fresh fruits and vegetables are not only crucial for general health but are also vital for maintaining good oral health. Diets that contain fresh vegetables and other fiber-rich produce that necessitates active chewing stimulates saliva flow, a natural defense against cavities.
  2. Reliance on Processed and Sugary Foods: With a lack of grocery stores offering fresh produce and healthy food options, residents in food deserts often resort to purchasing food from convenience stores or fast food restaurants. These foods are typically high in sugar, starch, and carbohydrates, which can lead to the development of cavities and gum disease.
  3. Overall Health and Dental Health: Diabetes, heart disease, and obesity is are linked to poor diet but also to poor oral health. A lack of access to healthy, fresh food may have a series of negative effects that might compound each other.

Overcoming the Negative Oral Health Impacts of Food Deserts

Addressing the impact of food deserts on oral health requires a multifaceted approach:

  1. Improving Access to Healthy Foods: Whenever you have the chance support government or non-profit initiatives that bring fresh produce to your community. The initiatives include: mobile food markets, community gardens, and incentivizing supermarkets to move into food deserts to help improve access to fresh, nutritious foods.
  2. Making Extra Effort to Buy Healthy Food: As challenging as it is to find the time and energy to buy fresh produce, put in additional effort and take the time to plan on buying and preparing fresh food.
  3. Stay on Top of Your Regular Dental and Medical Appointments: Make sure you visit the dentist two times a year for a dental cleaning. This can help maintain good oral health and find any dental issues before they become more serious and costly.

If you live in Sterling or Princeton and have concerns over the lack of fresh produce and the impact it might have on your oral health talk to one of our dentists during your visit. Our dentists would be happy to help you understand the relationship between diet and oral health.

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