A Diet to Ward Off Gum Disease?

A Diet to Ward Off Gum Disease?

The right diet may improve gum health, a small study has found.

German researchers studied 30 people with gingivitis, the inflammation of the gums that can cause redness, swelling and bleeding. A dentist measured the severity of their gingivitis and their levels of plaque, the bacteria-laden film that builds up on the teeth and can cause gum disease.

The researchers took blood samples, and the participants filled out diet questionnaires. Then the scientists randomized half the group to an anti-inflammatory diet rich in fruits, vegetables (especially legumes), nuts and fish, and minimizing trans-fatty acids, sugar, dairy products and other animal protein. They also took vitamin D supplements. The other half ate their usual diet. Both groups were instructed not to use dental floss or other means of cleaning between the teeth.

The eight-week study, in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, found that compared to the controls, the diet group had higher vitamin D levels, lost weight and had significantly less gum bleeding. There were no differences between the groups in plaque accumulation or in blood markers of inflammation.

“Western diet promotes gingival and other inflammatory diseases,” said the lead author, Johan P. Woelber, a dentist and researcher at the University of Freiburg. “If your dentist doesn’t talk about diet, he’s missing one of the causes of gum inflammation.”

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