The mouth as an indicator of internal nutritional problems.
The mouth is a uniquely sensitive repository of nutritional information reflecting past and present nutritional insults with a speed and to a degree unmatched by almost any other body site. Changes in the structural integrity of the teeth provide a history of exposure to deficiencies of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D and iodine and to an excess of fluorides during the years of tooth formation. Changes in the structural integrity of the oral mucosa may signal ongoing deficiencies of riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, biotin, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and protein calories. The evidence is readily accessible and painlessly procured. The clinician alert to and familiar with the stomatological reactions to prolonged deprivation of many of the essential nutrients is in a privileged position for the early diagnosis and effective management of the nutritional deficiency states.