Diet has a significant effect in the development of dental caries. Yet the role that food plays in systemic inflammation and subsequent tooth loss has not been extensively examined, even though 46% of adults in the United States have periodontitis, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Using data from the 2009-2010 and 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a multi-university research team assessed dietary inflammatory potential using the Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII), a composite measure based on the association between nutrients and systemic pro-inflammatory cytokine levels.
Subjects in the highest quartile of the DII, indicating a pro-inflammatory diet, had lost an average of 0.84 more teeth than those in the lowest quartile of the DII, indicating an anti-inflammatory diet. The researchers concluded that an anti-inflammatory diet could be associated with fewer missing teeth.
Q: Oral inflammation often is attributed to bacterial factors and infection. How does diet fit into its mechanics?
A: We know very well that dental caries are largely attributed to cariogenic dietary habits, with carbohydrate-rich diets being a key modifiable risk factor for disease prevention. The effect that dietary habits have on tooth loss is such that a diet restricting fermentable carbohydrates (eg, simple sugars and complex carbohydrates) can prevent caries. Nonetheless, little information was available on the effect of diet on periodontitis.