Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS • Nutritional Periodontist
December 5, 2016
Medical research is amazing. When performed properly, it presents knowledge or proof that was previously unknown. Below, I describe two medical papers that have offered knowledge and proof that was previously unknown about gum disease.
One paper was published in 2009, and one was published in 2016. They are the only studies that I have found that were well designed and clearly showed how a healthy diet could reverse the signs and symptoms of gum disease.
These are not just anecdotal comments. These are medical facts, published in peer-reviewed journals. These facts contribute serious knowledge to those who want to know.
The first study was published in 2009. The research included ten individuals. For four weeks, their diet consisted of primal foods endemic to their area in Switzerland about 5,700 years ago. No processed foods were available for them to eat. These participants had to gather and forage for the majority of their food. In addition, these individuals were not able to brush or floss their teeth during the entire four weeks. Signs of gum infection were measured, and cultures of bacteria in their dental plaque were taken before and after the study.
At the end of the study, there was a significant decrease in signs of gum disease even though all ten participants could not brush or floss their teeth for the duration of the study. Although amounts of dental plaque increased, disease-producing bacteria did not increase in the plaque. These positive findings surprised the investigators.
Bottom line: a diet that completely removes processed foods reduces the signs and symptoms of gum disease.
This study was published in July 2016. It was a randomized control trial consisting of 15 adult participants. Randomized control trials are well designed and the gold standard of medical research. This type of research design is highly respected in the scientific world.
The trial consisted of fifteen people who had signs of gum disease and were eating a diet heavily based on carbohydrates. Ten individuals made up the experimental group, and five individuals made up the control group.
The experimental group had to change their diet. Their new diet consisted of foods low in carbohydrates, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and abundant in vitamins C and D, antioxidants and fiber. The control group did not change their eating habits. As far as oral hygiene was concerned, researchers told all fifteen participants NOT to clean between their teeth with dental floss or interdental brushes. However, they did not have to change the way they brushed their teeth.
The study began after each group had a few weeks to acclimate to these changes I mentioned above. Then, the four-week study began. Researchers recorded the signs of gum disease in all participants at the start of the four-week study and at the end.
At the end of the four-week trial, all disease parameters decreased significantly in the experimental group by approximately 50% from the starting point. In contrast, all inflammatory markers increased from the starting point in the control group.
Bottom line: a diet that eliminates sugars and processed grains and includes nutrient-dense foods can reduce the signs and symptoms of gum disease.
Take Home Message
Nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods frequently can reverse the signs and symptoms of gum disease. This type of diet is what I have been preaching for the last four years. This type of diet is what I have embraced personally with observable health benefits.