DentalCare Logo

Food for Thought: The Relationship Between Oral Health and Nutrition

Course Number: 583

Dietary Implications in Periodontal Disease

Diet and periodontal disease are not as clearly connected as diet and dental caries. Overall nutritional health status can affect host susceptibility and influence disease progression. Good nutrition can be protective by increasing resistance to periodontal infection and minimize its severity while poor nutrition can reduce resistance to periodontal infection. Bacteria are the primary etiology factors behind periodontal disease, however the diet plays a modifying role in the progression and severity in the host.11

All nutrients are needed to synthesis the oral tissues and structures, keep them healthy throughout life, enhance the immune system to fight infection, and aid in wound healing. Table 6 describes the nutrients for oral health, their specific roles, and deficiency outcomes.

Table 6. Nutrients Important for a Healthy Periodontium.

Vitamin D
  • Calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium absorption
  • Deficiency linked to periodontal disease
  • Bone metabolism
Vitamin A
  • Builds and maintains epithelium
  • Enhances immune system
  • Salivary gland function
B-Complex Vitamins
  • Formation of new cells
  • Cofactor for nutrients
  • Periodontal wound healing
  • Collagen synthesis (biotin)
  • Promotes growth maintenance and repair of all tissues
Vitamin C
  • Aids in collagen formation
  • Deficiency causes ascorbic acid gingivitis
  • Enhances immune response
Iron, Zinc
  • Aids in collagen formation
  • Wound healing
  • Regulates inflammation
  • Builds and maintains alveolar process
  • Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties
  • Obesity is a risk factor for periodontal disease
  • Controls serum glucose and inflammatory response
  • Deficiency linked to periodontal inflammation
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Inhibits colonization of harmful microorganisms
  • May reduce lactobacillus

Obesity and Oral Health

Obesity is diagnosed as, a person’s body mass index score (BMI) is over 30, defined as a medical condition of excess body fat.11 Obesity is a risk factor for periodontal disease by causing spikes in blood glucose metabolism, leading to an inflammatory response by the body. A poorly nourished host has difficulty fighting infection and inflammation. A recent study by the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed body mass index is positively related to severity of periodontal attachment loss. The black arrows indicate established relationships; the blue arrows indicated proposed associations.11

Obesity and oral health