“You are what you eat,” or at least, that’s how the saying goes. This statement may seem cliched, but dieticians, scientists, and medical professionals have understood for years that this saying holds a lot of truth. For years, these areas of study have examined the effects of diet and nutrition on physical and mental performance. To put it simply, your diet is the fuel on which your body runs. A diet rich in healthy, whole foods is a “cleaner,” more natural source of fuel for your body — complete with the vitamins, minerals, and nutritional building blocks that your body was designed to process. Your entire body can be affected by your diet, especially your oral health. We know that a diet high in starches and sugars can lead to accelerated plaque and tartar growth, and today, more research is showing the link between diet and gum health. Recently, the Journal of Clinical Periodontology published research evidence which showed evidence that a plant-based diet full of whole, unprocessed foods can reduce gingivitis. |
The research was conducted by the University of Freiburg in Germany. Dr. Johan Woelber, lead author of the study, explained that the study participants included 30 patients who had early stages of periodontal disease (or gingivitis). At the beginning, the 30 patients were divided into two groups. The first, experimental group was instructed to strictly follow a diet low in processed carbs and animal proteins for one month. During this time, they supplemented their diet with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin D, antioxidants, plant nitrates, and fibers. The second, control group maintained their normal diet. Both groups did not floss or use dental cleaning tools other than a toothbrush during the study.
The results? Although plaque levels remained relatively the same across both groups, the first group (following a plant-based diet) experienced less bleeding in the gums and displayed higher vitamin D levels in addition to weight loss.
While the study lasted only four weeks, the reduced gingival bleeding is a sign that diet could have a long-term effect on periodontal health. A plant-based diet is typically lower in processed foods which often have higher levels of starches and sugars. By reducing the amount of starches eaten, patients can reduce the “fuel” on which harmful oral bacteria feeds. This keeps plaque and tartar at bay. By limiting the growth of harmful oral bacteria, the mouth can better fight off the negative effects of the bacteria – including the acidic waste plaque deposits onto teeth and gums which is the culprit behind tooth decay and gingivitis.
Tooth brushing and flossing is a necessary daily habit to remove plaque and thereby preventing tooth decay and periodontal disease. However, a healthy, whole foods-centered diet could be beneficial in reducing the source of plaque in the mouth. By reducing the amount of plaque that can naturally develop, patients would be helping to reduce the possibility of tooth decay and periodontal disease. For patients struggling with recurring periodontal disease symptoms, a change in diet, along with diligent dental hygiene and dental cleanings, could be the best way to reduce symptoms and prevent gingivitis from returning after treatment.
If you are looking for comprehensive and comfortable periodontal treatment in the Denver, CO area, contact Metro Dental Care at 303.534.2626.
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