Can a plant-based diet ward off gum disease?

Consuming a plant-based diet may help prove effective in reducing symptoms gingivitis, according to a small study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

German researchers studied 30 people with gingivitis in an experimental and controlled group.

The severity of their gingivitis and their levels of plaque were then measured by dental professionals.

The researchers took blood samples, and the participants filled out diet questionnaires.

The scientists then randomised half the group to an anti-inflammatory diet rich in fruits, vegetables (especially legumes), nuts and fish, and minimising trans-fatty acids, sugar, dairy products and other animal protein.

They also took vitamin D supplements and 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.

While there were no differences regarding the plaque values, the experimental group showed a significant reduction in gingival bleeding, as well as a significant increase in vitamin D values and a significant weight loss.

‘According to this,’ said the lead author, Johan P Woelber, a dentist and researcher at the University of Freiburg, ‘dental teams should address dietary habits and give adequate recommendations in the treatment of gingivitis, since it might be a side effect of a pro-inflammatory western diet.’

‘If your dentist doesn’t talk about diet, he’s missing one of the causes of gum inflammation,’ he added.

‘Study results clearly demonstrate the possibility to naturally reduce gingivitis by an optimised diet that also promotes general health.’

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