A diet full of fish and nuts goes a long way to protect people from gum disease - a new study has shown. The research has suggested that polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) found in foods such as fatty fish and nuts, will help keep people's smiles healthy as it has been shown to help lower the risks of gum disease and periodontitis.
The research examined the diet of 182 adults between 1999 and 2004, and found that those who consumed the highest amounts of fatty acids were a 30 percent less likely to develop gum disease and 20 percent less likely to develop periodontitis (severe gum disease).
Lead researcher of the study, Dr Asghar Z. Naqvi of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, said: "We found that n-3 fatty acid intake, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are inversely associated with periodontitis in the US population."
"To date, the treatment of periodontitis has primarily involved mechanical cleaning and local antibiotic application. A dietary therapy, if effective, might be a less expensive and safer method for the prevention and treatment of periodontitis."
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, said: "Most people suffer from gum disease at some point in their life. What people tend not to realise is that it can actually lead to tooth loss if left untreated, and in this day and age, most people should be able to keep all their teeth for life. "This study shows that a small and relatively easy change in people's diet can massively improve the condition of their teeth and gums, which in turn can improve their overall wellbeing."
The study was published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Gum disease is caused by plaque (the film of bacteria that forms on the surface of the teeth). To prevent and treat gum disease all the plaque must be removed from the teeth every day by brushing twice a day and cleaning in between teeth with interdental brushes or floss.
Inflammation and soreness of the gums is one of the first signs of gum disease, and often gums bleed when they are brushed during cleaning. Over time gum disease becomes more severe and can impact the tissues supporting the teeth. The bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw is lost and the teeth become loose, if not treated this can lead to teeth eventually falling out. As gum disease progresses to periodontal disease there may be no apparent symptoms and this is why regular visits to the dentist or hygienist for regular checkups and cleaning are so important.