A recent observational study of elderly men showed that eating high-fiber foods helped to prevent the progression of periodontal disease.
Researchers followed a cohort of 625 men (>95% non-Hispanic white) from the Department of Veterans Affairs Dental Longitudinal Study to test whether consuming foods high in fiber helped to reduce the development of periodontal disease. The participants’ health was assessed every 3 to 5 years in dental and physical examinations, where factors such as diet, exercise, and smoking were considered. Food frequency questionnaires completed by the patients were compared with the data collected at their checkups to measure the impact of a high-fiber diet on periodontal disease. Mean follow-up was 15 years.
Researchers defined periodontal disease of each tooth as alveolar bone loss (ABL) progression by at least 40% or loss of a tooth, probing pocket depth progression (PPD) of 2 mm or more or loss of a tooth, and tooth loss alone. Men aged 65 years and older were at higher risk for greater ABL progression (HR=1.38; 95% CI, 1.07-1.79), PPD progression (HR=1.35; 95% CI, 1.19-1.52) and tooth loss (HR=1.51; 95% CI, 1.17-2.04).
Study results showed for men aged 65 and older who consumed an additional 2.5 g or more per serving of good to excellent fiber foods, especially fruits, their risks for ABL progression (HR=0.76; 95% CI, 0.60-0.95) and tooth loss (HR=0.72; 95% CI, 0.53-0.97) decreased by 24% and 28%, respectively. Researchers found no significant associations in men younger than 65 years.
“In the cross-sectional analyses, higher amounts of dietary fiber were associated with greater number of teeth and less bleeding on probing and calculus,” the researchers concluded, noting that future studies should include women and a wider array of ethnicities. “Overall, higher intakes of good to excellent fiber foods, particularly fruits, correlated with optimal periodontal health status in men at baseline and during follow-up.”