Have your gums been looking extra red lately? Do you notice blood collecting in the sink after you floss? If the answer is “yes,” you’re not alone. An estimated fifty-percent of Americans over the age of 30 have gum disease, according to the CDC. That number rises to nearly seventy-percent past the age of 65. Not only is gum disease one of the most common oral complications, it’s also one of the most dangerous, increasing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and a dozen other nasty diseases, which is why patients should put in the effort to avoid it.
Thanks to the efforts of a team of researchers based out of the University of Freiburg, in Germany, there seems to be evidence that diet can play a big part.
Can a Plant-based Diet Reduce Gum Disease?
Recently published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, a new research project has shown that adopting a plant-based diet could reduce gingivitis. To conduct the study, researchers took 30 patients with gingivitis and randomly separated them into groups. The experimental group were given a diet low in processed carbohydrates and animal proteins, and high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin D, antioxidants, and fiber, while the control group kept their same diet. Participants were then told to suspend their normal brushing and flossing. The results were intriguing.
Despite not flossing, the group who adopted a plant-based diet showed a significant reduction in gingival bleeding. Many of the participants also lost weight.
Good for Your Gums and Your Body
A plant-based diet isn’t just good for your gums. In the last decade, several studies have concluded that changing your diet can help prevent several chronic diseases, can combat obesity rates, and can lower your risk factors associated with cardiac disease — that’s because it can help to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. Dramatically switching your diet can be difficult, especially if you have a family. So if you’re hoping to lower your chances of gum disease without committing to a plant-based diet, there are still options for you.
Protecting Yourself from Gum Disease
Lowering your risk of gum disease starts with your oral hygiene habits. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day, and flossing once. Because saliva works to protect our teeth from forming plaque, plaque tends to come in the middle of the night while we’re sleeping. That’s why brushing once before bed and again in the morning is best. You’ll also want to make sure you floss consistently before you go to bed. This will remove any food debris that becomes caught in your gum line.
Another way to protect yourself from gum disease is by scheduling a checkup and cleaning once every six months. During this appointment, your dentist will remove tarter — plaque that has hardened past the point of being able to remove it by normal brushing — and check your mouth for tooth decay.