LaBell Dentistry April – How Your Diet Affects Periodontal Health
Good nutrition is part of treatment.
We spend a lot of time talking about how to care for our teeth, and even how caring for our teeth can help us keep healthier bodies. You have surely heard about how what you eat affects your dental health and that sugary foods can lead to cavities. But what about the health of your gums? Research shows that good nutrition plays an important role in keeping the early stages of gum disease from getting worse.
Dietary Influences on Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammation of the gums. Research shows that a periodontal lesion needs certain nutrients to heal and a lack of the right nutrients can even worsen the risk of infection. To make matters worse, infections can hurt the body’s ability to make use of certain nutrients.
A Forster Study in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society looked at what would happen if they improved the micronutrient profile in older adults through dietary supplementation, given that deficits in micronutrients are common in the elderly. In a trial of 217 adults aged 65 to 85, observed over six months, researchers found their efforts did in fact reduce the rate of infection.
The study split the groups into three sections. One group changed nothing in their diet, one ate healthier foods and the other took supplements designed to mimic the nutritional improvements in the food group. As far as how long individuals experienced symptoms of infection, great improvements were seen in the food group only. The number of weeks in which symptoms affected daily life and resulted in the need to see a doctor was lower in both the food and supplement groups.
Specific Nutrients and Periodontal Disease
We already know that nutrition is an effective treatment for immune disorders, so it makes sense that eating well would lessen the damage done by periodontal disease. Based on various research studies, the nutrients that seem to have the greatest positive influence on periodontal disease include:
- Vitamin C – Research shows a small connection between vitamin C intake and gum disease. But for smokers, the nutrient had a greater benefit.
- Vitamin D and Calcium – Low calcium increases the risk of periodontal attachment loss, while a high intake of dairy products shows a decreased prevalence of gum disease. A lack of both nutrients causes bone loss and increased inflammation. Consuming at least 55 g of lactic-acid-containing foods significantly lowers instances of gum disease, but the benefit is not seen in smokers.
- Lactobacilli – The beneficial microbes found in dairy foods like yogurt, milk and cheese seem to control the growth of periodontal pathogens and may help prevent gum disease.
- Omega-3 and Aspirin – Usually considered in heart health, this combination of aspirin and fatty acids also has a therapeutic anti-inflammatory effect, reducing pocket depth of gums.
A healthy diet seems to have a strong influence on periodontal disease, both helping patients prevent inflammation and help lesions heal.
See Dr. Terry LaBell for Help with Periodontal Disease
Nutrition cannot replace the need for periodontal treatment, but it can help you heal faster. Call us at 425.402.1246 or use our online contact form to schedule a visit for periodontal care.