Eat Your Way to Improved Oral and Heart Health
We take a whole-health approach to dental care, and nutritional therapy is among the services we provide here at the Lanap & Implant Center of Pennsylvania.
A healthy diet affects more than your waistline. Your oral health can greatly benefit from it, or it can be harmed by it.
A study presented at an American Heart Association meeting in March found that those whose diets were about 70 percent plant-based — meaning whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruit and nuts — had a relatively lower risk of dying from heart disease, according to a Doctors Lounge article.
This study conducted by lead researcher Camille Lassale, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, involved more than 450,000 adults.
If you’re wondering why a practice that specializes in periodontal treatment is interested in a study that correlates lowered heart disease risks with dietary changes, you’ve come to the right place. For years, we have written about the connection between periodontal disease and heart disease. Scientists believe that inflammation caused by gum disease may be responsible for the increased risk of heart disease. Gum disease can worsen existing heart conditions, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. It also is linked to increased stroke risk.
Based on the wealth of research that draws the connection between oral health and heart health, it stands to reason that a diet designed to promote heart health likely will keep you in better oral health, too.
“Eating healthy, nutritious foods can improve your oral health and help you recover from and avoid problems like gum disease,” Dr. David DiGiallorenzo says. “We know that, and recommend nutritional therapy not just as a preventive measure; we incorporate it to help support the good results achieved through our gum disease and dental implants treatments.”
We offer specific nutritional recommendations to patients based on their unique needs before, during and after treatment. The nutritional principles we promote to patients in our practice are:
- Avoid refined sugars
- Make juicing part of your diet
- Eat only organic foods
- Take supplements such as probiotics, Coq10, Calcium and Vitamin D
We also promote homeopathics and coconut oil pulling. We use a variety of methods to ensure adequate outcomes.
Here are some dietary recommendations from an article in Eating Well that you might incorporate on your own to help promote healthy gums and a healthy heart:
True, raisins are sweet and sticky. But research has shown antioxidants present in raisins fight the growth of a type of bacteria that can cause inflammation and gum disease.
A 2009 study found that Japanese men who drank a daily cup of green tea significantly lowered their risk of developing gum disease. The more tea they consumed, the more they lowered their heart disease risk. Scientists once again point to green tea’s antioxidants- called catechins – as the reason. Catechins hinder your body’s inflammatory response to the bacteria that cause periodontal disease.
Men who ate four or more servings daily of whole grains reduced their risk of periodontal disease by 23 percent, according to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study. They are digested more slowly and promote a steadier rise in blood glucose. Avoiding blood sugar spikes tempers the body’s inflammatory protein production and lowers gum and heart disease risks.
A word about sugar
Sugar often is targeted as an ingredient to avoid as much as possible. The World Health Organization released updated guidelines regarding sugar intake in March. It recommends that we limit added sugars to no more than 10 percent of our overall calories. That translates to 25-50 grams of sugar a day for most people. The guidelines don’t apply to sugars that occur naturally in fruits, vegetables and milk, since they come with essential nutrients.
Those gooey, home-baked brownies, convenience store candy bars and syrupy soft drinks taste good going down, but you’re not the only one who thinks so. Streptococcus bacteria that live in your mouth feed off of the sugars you eat, then excrete acids that eat away at your tooth enamel.
Oddly enough, the amount of sugar you eat doesn’t matter as much in terms of oral health as the amount of time it remains in contact with the plaque on your teeth. Gobbling a king-sized candy bar in one sitting actually could be less harmful than sipping on a sugary soft drink over the course of a couple of hours.
We recommend that in addition to limiting your sugar intake, you should brush your teeth after partaking in sugary drinks and snacks. If you can’t brush, thoroughly rinse your mouth with water.
We’re happy to share additional nutritional advice if you’d like more information on how to promote oral health through your diet. Please call today to schedule a consultation with a Collegeville periodontist who can help you work toward optimum periodontal health.