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.
Georgios A. Kotsakis, DDS, MS, of the University of Washington School of Dentistry Department of Periodontics recently shared his insights about the study with Dentistry Today.
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.
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