When a dentist tells you to go to a doctor, don’t be surprised if they also suggest that you take a supplement, say researchers at Northwestern University.
The findings, published today in the journal PLOS ONE, highlight the power of nutrition and exercise to improve health and dental health.
“Dental health is a complex process, and there’s so much to be learned about how it can be improved,” said Dr. Amy P. Matson, a professor of dentistry at Northwestern.
“It is so important to have knowledge about what the best diet and exercise for your teeth can do for your health and well-being.
It’s also critical to know how to incorporate nutrition into your daily activities.”
The study looked at the role of dietary and lifestyle factors in improving dental health, as well as the impact of diet and lifestyle on dental health and mortality rates.
Researchers focused on the diet of 1,731 adults, who ranged in age from 26 to 90 years old.
Of the participants, more than half had diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and a family history of diabetes.
Those with the highest risk of dying of any disease were also more likely to have diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Participants were asked to complete a health questionnaire, including questions on diet, exercise, stress, sleep, and social isolation.
The researchers also looked at lifestyle factors, such as smoking, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and stress levels.
They found that people who ate a Mediterranean-style diet had lower rates of diabetes and heart disease and had a lower risk of death from any cause, compared to those who ate the traditional Western-style, low-carbohydrate diet.
The results also showed that the Mediterranean- and low-calorie diet diet were equally effective at improving dental wellness.
Participants who ate more fruits and vegetables, ate fewer grains, and ate less salt and sugar, all had better dental health than those who didn’t.
These factors may be related to the fact that the traditional Mediterranean-like diet was high in fruit and vegetables and low in salt and fat, while the low- and moderate-carb diet was low in both.
The findings may also explain why people with the lowest rates of dental problems tended to have the most teeth, which suggests that people with higher levels of health may have a greater likelihood of getting dental problems.
“It’s not only the diet, but also the lifestyle factors that are important for good dental health,” said Matson.
“Our results suggest that dietary and health practices can have a major impact on improving dental well-function in both the short and long term.”
For more information about this study, including the results of the study, see:Matson M.M., Hinton C.A., Miller M.A. & Johnson M.R. (2017).
Dietary and health factors in dental health: What we learned from a meta-analysis of the evidence.
PLOS One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179191