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What we eat plays an important role in maintaining and improving our oral health. By now you probably know that diets high in sugar represent a significant risk to an individual’s oral and overall health. While sweetened juice and sugary sodas and snacks get most of the headlines when it comes to foods that present the biggest threat to our oral health, carbohydrates and citric acids also play a role in destroying tooth enamel and inflaming gum tissue.
Diets that contain too much of these types of foods increase the risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Plaque – a sticky biofilm – transforms the sugars we eat into harmful acids that erode tooth enamel and cause gum tissue to become inflamed. Over time, this leads to the development of gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease. If not treated, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease that can cause gum recession and permanent tooth loss.
While practicing quality daily oral hygiene such as brushing and flossing can help reduce the risk of gum disease, a change of diet can also lower your risk. According to a new study, it’s not just what you remove from your diet that can help fight gingivitis, it’s what you add that can have just as big an impact.
A team of German researchers has recently completed a study that suggests drinking a glass of lettuce juice a day could help patients successfully control chronic gingivitis.
The study was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.
A Glass a Day Keeps the Biological Dentist in Denver Away
While not maybe not as simple as the old adage about an apple a day, the results of the recent study do suggest that daily nitrate consumption could offer lasting benefits when it comes to preventing early stage gum disease.
In the study, researchers assembled 44 patients suffering from chronic gingivitis and recorded their salivary nitrate level (SNL), plaque control record (PCR), and baseline gingival index (GI). Researchers then conducted a supragingival and subgingival debridement.
Next, the participants received 100 ml bottles of lettuce juice and were instructed to drink them 3 times a day for the next 2 weeks. Of the 44 participants, 23 received approximately 200 mg of nitrates each day for the test, and the remaining participants received a placebo juice devoid of nitrate.
The mean SNL, PCR and GI did not significantly differ between the two groups when the baseline was recorded at the beginning of the trial. However, after the 2 weeks trial concluded, the mean GI of the test group was significantly lower than the control group and recorded baseline. The mean SNL was also significantly higher than the control group while the mean PCR did not change significantly in either group.
The results of the study showed a significant improvement in oral health for participants that consumed the lettuce juice. The progress of their gingivitis not only had been stopped, early evidence suggested an overall improvement to gum health, as well.
While more research needs to be conducted for the results of the study to be proven conclusively, it does offer another glimpse into how the foods we eat can dramatically improve our oral health. Brushing and flossing still remain the best and most clinically proven ways of preventing gingivitis, but an increased ingestion of nitrates now offers another level of protection when it comes to protecting long-term oral health.
Just one more reason to order a salad instead of a sandwich at lunch.