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Anti-inflammatory diet improves gum health

Eating more plant foods, omega fatty acids, vitamins and fibre improved gum health over a 4 week period.

An “anti-inflammatory” diet with high amounts of plant foods, omega fatty acids and several vitamins may help reduce gum disease, finds a study from the University of Freiburg published in Journal of clinical periodontology. It confirms a previous pilot study they did in 2016 (Woelber et al 2016) and may provide another treatment option for this disease after the standard one of plaque removal.

Periodontal disease affects around 743 million people worldwide according to the researchers (Woelber et al 2016) and it causes tooth loss in the elderly which has consequences for general health. They explain that work in the 1960s highlighted dental plaque as the cause of the inflammation. However, they say, there is evidence from several sources that diet may affect the degree of gum inflammation (see further reading).

In this study, the researchers led by Johan Woelber, tested a diet with multiple anti-inflammatory components so it is not clear which individual factors are important. The diet they’ve used includes very low amounts of processed carbohydrates and animal protein and high amounts of omega fatty acids, vitamins C and D, fibre, and nitrate-containing plants such as beetroot. In the pilot study in 2016, the authors explain their reasons for using such a broad diet “it is very important to deliver a dietary protocol that is applicable to patients in daily practice. In other words, advising patients to implement this dietary pattern will show effects irrespective of whether they focus more on high glycemic index carbohydrate reduction, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin C and/or antioxidants.”

To examine the effects of this diet, the researchers randomised 30 patients with gingivitis to either consume the experimental diet or a controlled diet for a month. Both groups suspended any cleaning they usually did between their teeth for the duration of the study. The researchers measured plaque, the composition of the microbiome around the gums, markers of inflammation and vitamin D in the blood. After 4 weeks the experimental group experienced significantly less bleeding of the gums and had significantly increased levels of vitamin D and as a bonus they also lost weight.

Interestingly the reduction of gum inflammation the researchers observed did not appear to be due to changes in the inflammatory markers they measured, in levels of omega fatty acids, in the oral microbiome or in the amount of plaque on the teeth.

Dr Johan Woelber commented “study results clearly demonstrate the possibility to naturally reduce gingivitis by an optimised diet that also promotes general health”


The influence of an anti-inflammatory diet on gingivitis. A randomised controlled trial. J. P. Woelber et al. Journal of clinical periodontology (2019)

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