Your Diet and its Potential to Reduce Gingivitis

What Else Could I Do Besides Brushing to Help With My Gingivitis?

As with many things in medicine I wish that I had a magic bullet to fix this chronic issue. In our day and age, we are so used to having a medical problem, seeing a doctor and being fixed, so to speak. Take a pill and we are all better.

There are some medical issues that come on rather fast and many times can be treated simply and quickly. This is the 20th and 21st-century medicine that we are privileged to experience and come to expect.  

There is another type of medical problem which often shows up as we get older. This type of condition is a chronic one. That means that it lasts for a long time and often times comes on slowly. In fact, it comes on so slowly that we don’t even realize that something is wrong for many years and decades.

As we live longer the odds of us seeing these types of issues increases. Some of these problems are due to things breaking down, others are due to lifestyle.

Two Major Chronic Oral Diseases

When it comes to oral diseases, the two major ones are cavities and gum disease.

Cavities

We are all aware that what we eat affects cavities. We are taught and learn from a young age that sugar is bad for your teeth. Mouth bugs love sugar and produce acid after their sugar feast, which results in holes in your teeth. These holes are commonly referred to as dental cavities.

Gum Disease

With gum disease its a different sort of phenomenon. Gum disease is a broad term and encompasses things like gingivitis and periodontitis. In gum disease, bacteria are involved but they are not the same as in cavities.

When it comes to gum disease we talk about frequent professional cleanings. This is important but will not solve all of our problems.

In addition to seeing a dental hygienist for cleanings, we need to follow up at home with excellent home care. Yes, tedious and boring brushing and flossing is the basis of healthy gum tissue.

Unlike cavities on teeth, gum tissue can go through phases of health and disease. Gums can be turned from a diseased state to one of health. Once a cavity starts, there is no way for it to heal itself. This is a major difference between these two dental problems.

A Recent Study and an Exciting Discovery

The fact that gums can heal, and gingivitis can be reversed prompted a study that was reported last week at the European Federation of Periodontology’s conference.  

The lead author was Dr. Johan Wölber of the Department of Operative Dentistry and Periodontology, Centre for Dental Medicine, University Medical Centre, Freiburg, Germany.

He designed a study in which a group of patients was asked to follow a special diet low in processed carbohydrates and animal proteins but rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins C and D, antioxidants, plant nitrates, and fibers.

The other group did not change their diet and followed a typical Western diet with processed carbohydrates and animal protein.

To take toothbrushing out of the equation, neither group cleaned their teeth at all.

After looking at both groups after 4 weeks,  the “healthy diet substantially reduced inflammation of the gums. On the whole, we found a significant reduction of gingivitis of about 40%”, said Dr. Wölber.

Diet Alone Can Reduce Gingivitis

I need to repeat that outstanding and exciting result.

Diet alone reduced gingivitis in the absence of brushing and flossing.

The best diet for overall health, as well as dental health, involves eliminating or at least limiting processed carbohydrates and bad fats (as opposed to healthy fats).

An increase in plant-based whole foods which is filled with plenty of fiber and anti-inflammatory components will fill the void left by avoiding the foods that promote and drive inflammation.

Well, there you have it. The foods that reduce heart attack, stroke and cancer will also help keep the teeth in your mouth to enjoy these great foods.

Remember, life is not an all or nothing. Those foods that promote inflammation can be had on occasion as a treat. Our eating habits and style should not be made up of all treats.

To learn more about the benefits of a healthy plant-based diet and oral health read my article ‘Nutrition and the Durability of Your Teeth’ here.

If you want to learn more about this exciting field of medicine and dentistry, call us for a complimentary visit. We can even talk about your teeth too.

Our number is 440.951.7856. Megan will answer the phone and get you scheduled in a timely fashion.

Jeffrey Gross, DDSFAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

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