Can Your Gums Reveal Your Diet?

Trusted Health Products
Written By Kevin Kerfoot / Reviewed By Ray Spotts

While most of us are aware that sweets and other sugary foods and drinks increase the risk of dental cavities. Research from Aarhus University in Denmark concludes that sweet soft drinks and lots of sugar increase the risk of both dental cavities and inflammation of the gums - known as periodontal diseases - and that healthy eating habits should be prioritized even more. The research - published in the Journal of Oral Microbiology - arrived at a common hypothesis for the development of the two major dental diseases. They base the hypothesis on the biochemical processes that take place in the bacterial deposits on teeth when you add abundant amounts of nutrients to the bacteria - particularly when you eat sugar. The researchers say that periodontal diseases caused by sugar belong to the group of inflammatory diseases in line with diabetes, obesity and heart disease and recommends that healthy eating habits should be given much higher priority if the goal is to avoid expensive treatments in the healthcare system.

"Sugar hasn't traditionally been associated with the development of periodontal diseases,” says Professor, Dr. Odont. Bente Nyvad from the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health at Aarhus University, who  headed the research. “It's true that back in the 1970s two American researchers suggested that a diet which was high in carbohydrates could be a common risk factor for both dental diseases and inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease, but this knowledge was largely forgotten again. Today, there is general agreement that the above-mentioned diseases are associated with a high sugar intake. However, a hypothesis that could link and explain the two major dental diseases, caries and periodontitis, has been lacking. In other words, we revive the 'forgotten' hypothesis that sugar can promote both dental cavities and periodontal diseases and emphasize the importance of continuing to brush your teeth even if you cut down on sugar.”

Link Between Gum Bacteria, Alzheimer’s And Other Diseases

Researchers recently reported on how bacteria involved in gum disease can travel throughout the body, exuding toxins connected with Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and aspiration pneumonia. The bacterium, Porphyromonas gingivalis, is the bad actor involved in periodontitis, the most serious form of gum disease. These new findings underscore the importance of good dental hygiene as scientists seek ways to better control this common bacterial infection. They detected evidence of the bacteria in brain samples from people with Alzheimer’s and used mice to show that the bacterium can find its way from the mouth to the brain. 

While previous researchers have noted the presence of P. gingivalis in brain samples from Alzheimer’s patients, these researchers, in collaboration with Cortexyme, Inc., offer the strongest evidence to date that the bacterium may actually contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers compared brain samples from deceased people with and without Alzheimer’s disease who were roughly the same age when they died and found P. gingivalis was more common in samples from Alzheimer’s patients, evidenced by the bacterium’s DNA fingerprint and the presence of its key toxins, known as gingipains. 

Studies using mice revealed P. gingivalis can move from the mouth to the brain and that this migration can be blocked by chemicals that interact with gingipains. An experimental drug that blocks gingipains - COR388 - is currently in phase 1 clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease. Cortexyme, Inc. and the research team are working on other compounds that block enzymes important to P. gingivalis and other gum bacteria in hopes of interrupting their role in advancing Alzheimer’s and other diseases. The researchers also report evidence on the bacterium’s role in the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis, as well as aspiration pneumonia, a lung infection caused by inhaling food or saliva. 

Preventing P.gingivalis 

P.gingivalis commonly begins to infiltrate the gums during the teenage years. About one in five people under age 30 have low levels of the bacterium in their gums. While it is not harmful in most people, if it grows to large numbers the bacteria provoke the body’s immune system to create inflammation, leading to redness, swelling, bleeding and the erosion of gum tissue. Making matters worse, P. gingivalis even causes benign bacteria in the mouth to change their activities and further increase the immune response. Bacteria can travel from the mouth into the bloodstream through the simple act of chewing or brushing teeth. The best way to prevent P. gingivalis from growing out of control is by brushing and flossing regularly and visiting a dental hygienist at least once a year. Smokers and older people are at increased risk for infection, and genetic factors are also thought to play a role, but they are not well understood. 

“Oral hygiene is very important throughout our life, not only for having a beautiful smile but also to decrease the risk of many serious diseases,” says Jan Potempa, Ph.D., DSc, a professor at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry and head of the department of microbiology at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. “People with genetic risk factors that make them susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis or Alzheimer’s disease should be extremely concerned with preventing gum disease. P. gingivalis’s main toxins, the enzymes the bacterium need to exert its devilish tasks, are good targets for potential new medical interventions to counteract a variety of diseases. The beauty of such approaches in comparison to antibiotics is that such interventions are aimed only at key pathogens, leaving alone good, commensal bacteria, which we need.” 

Looking for a 100% all-natural liquid tooth oil and mouth rinse? Check out OraMD Original Strength and OraMD Extra Strength. Subscribe to our Trusted Health Club newsletter for more information about natural living tips, natural health, oral health and skincare. If you are looking for more health resources check out the Trusted Health Resources list. 

Written By:

With over 30 years of writing and editing experience for newspapers, magazines and corporate communications, Kevin Kerfoot writes about natural health, nutrition, skincare and oral hygiene for Trusted Health Products’ natural health blog and newsletters.

Reviewed By:

Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.

Teenage girl eating broccoli on Picspree


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