Oral health disorders, including cavities and periodontal disease, are among the most common health problems in US adults. Periodontal disease includes gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis, which can eventually lead to tooth loss. Over 20% of people 65 and older have untreated tooth decay, and approximately half of US adults aged 30 and older have periodontitis.
Omega-3 fatty acids, coenzyme Q10 and probiotics can support oral health and combat bad bacteria and inflammation in the mouth.
Oral Health and Systemic Diseases
Advanced periodontal disease is linked to both an increased risk of death and many chronic diseases, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease
Causes and Risk Factors
- Dysbiosis in the mouth (ie, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the mouth) is thought to be an important cause of periodontal disease
- Risk factors for periodontal disease include smoking, older age (especially 65 or older), and female gender
Signs and Symptoms
- Hot and cold sensitivity and tooth pain may signal the presence of a cavity
- Gum redness, swelling, sensitivity, and bleeding during brushing and flossing may occur in periodontal disease. There may also be gum recession, deepening pockets between teeth and gums, and bleeding on probing.
A dental exam, X-rays, and a periodontal probe to measure pocket depth are used to diagnose cavities and periodontal disease
- Cavities are removed and replaced with a filling. A root canal may be performed in an attempt to save the tooth.
- Gingivitis can frequently be managed with home dental hygiene and regular cleanings
- Periodontitis treatment can involve several strategies, including:
- Scaling and root planning
Novel and Emerging Strategies
- Using remineralization techniques in mild cavities
- Measuring biomolecules and bacterial and human DNA in the saliva to gauge inflammation and genetic susceptibility to periodontal disease
- Using lasers, photodynamic therapy, or topical metformin to improve efficacy of traditional periodontal treatments
Diet and Lifestyle Considerations
Along with regular brushing and flossing:
- A diet low in sugar, processed starches, and sodas and high in vegetables and fruits decreases risk of cavities
- Increased whole grains, calcium from dairy products, and exercise may lower risk of periodontal disease
- Probiotic lozenges: In a clinical study, adults with periodontal disease were treated with either probiotic lozenges providing the S. salivarius strain M18 bacteria or no lozenges. The M18 probiotic group were found to have less plaque, better gum health, and less bleeding on probing than the no-lozenge group.
- Xylitol: Xylitol has been found to decrease salivary acidity; reduce levels of plaque, harmful bacteria, and inflammation of the gums; and prevent dry mouth and enamel erosion.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): A randomized controlled trial of CoQ10 in patients with periodontal disease who underwent root planing and scaling found a significant reduction in gum inflammation in the CoQ10 group compared with placebo.
- Fish oil: Findings from several studies suggest people with periodontal disease have lower intake of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. Fish oil has been shown to benefit many of the chronic diseases that periodontal disease is associated with (including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and autoimmune diseases).
- Lycopene: Clinical trials in participants with gingivitis or periodontal disease found that lycopene taken orally was more effective than placebo as an adjunct to dental treatment.