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    Are we what we eat?

    Posted by Albertina on 12th March, 2013

    Diet has a vital role, in particular micro-nutrition, in the development of the disease periodontitis, an inflammatory disease of the gums. Diet also has an effect on the control of inflammation within the body and in particular the tissues around the teeth. Studies at Birmingham Dental School are being done to see how micronutrients control the signals from cells that regulate inflammation.  The impact of what we eat upon our dental health might be through the reaction to micronutrients at the cellular level.

    Our diet can have a profound effect on the cellular environment where periodontitis develops. The micronutrients : vitamins, minerals,  and phytonutrients from plants are known to have antioxidant properties. These are nutrients that are taken in small amounts and are important in metabolising other larger nutrients. Their effect on the environment in the mouth is to have antioxidant effect and to strengthen the immune resistance of the gums, and in particular to act against invading germs in the mucous membrane of the mouth. As part of a healthy balanced diet these micronutrients will come packaged in our food.

    There is research into oxidative stress which is suspected as having a pivotal role in the cause and development of periodontitis.  There are investigations into how people with chronic inflammatory conditions develop periodontitis. What does this mean to you and your teeth?

    Oxidative stress promotes the inflammatory response because the body sees the oxidation of cells as injury, and where excessive oxidative stress exists, inflammation begins to cause the body’s immune system to attack otherwise healthy cells.  Inflammation is the body’s way of combating an invasion, to maintain a healthy body and repair itself.

    Activation of our immune system is regulated by hormones. If this delicate balance is upset then we end up with chronic inflammation. The chronic inflammation can spread beyond the local area and affect areas of the body that are healthy.  It is thought to be caused by our cells burning free radicals that have built up over time and together with toxins from our environment can cause a cellular inflammation. (

    Periodontal diseases are caused by infections of the gums and eventually bone that surround and support the teeth. In its early stage it is called gingivitis and the gums can look red and swollen and may bleed whilst being brushed. This can develop into a more serious condition called periodontitis. Symptoms of periodontitis are that the gums can pull away from the tooth, the bone can be lost, and the teeth may loosen or even fall out. Periodontal disease is mostly seen in adults with tooth decay and is a big threat to dental health. (

    You need a dental professional to stop the progression of this disease and it is best caught in its early stages. Hence, regular visits to your dentist to assess your dental health and follow the advice on how to manage the future health of your mouth and teeth. Regular visits to your dentist, hygienist or dental therapist combined with a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle can help you body restore its balance.