Can Our Diet Affect Our Gums?
It’s been no secret for years that our dietary habits can contribute to tooth decay. Some of the unfriendly bacteria that can live in our mouth will convert sugars, or carbohydrates, to acid. That acid is what attacks and weakens our tooth enamel.
How our diet affects the health of our gums has not been studied nearly as well, however that may be changing. In the April 2019 Journal of Clnical Periodontology, the results of a small yet interesting study were published that begins to explore this.
Half of a group of thirty people with gingivitis were randomly assigned to follow an “anti-inflammatory” diet, which included increased fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish. They minimized processed foods and animal proteins, and also took vitamin D supplements. The other half of the group continued their normal diet. Both groups brushed their teeth as normal, however did not use anything to clean between their teeth at the instructions of the researchers. At the end of the eight week study, the group following the anti-inflammatory diet had less bleeding and inflammation of their gums. They had also lost a little weight.
Gum disease as we understand it today, is the body’s inflammatory response to the plaque, or film of bacteria that lives on our teeth and gums. The byproducts produced by the plaque in our mouth as well as our immune system’s response to the plaque can destroy the bone and supporting tissues of our teeth. Gum disease is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and several other health conditions.
Like many chronic diseases, multiple factors can influence it’s progression, including genetics, habits and lifestyle. While this is a small study and the exact reasons for the reduced inflammation are not identified, I look forward to more research being conducted in this area to give us better recommendations for improving our dental and overall health.
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