The Specialist

The role of nutrition in periodontal disease

Periodontal disease is a chronic disease affecting 50 percent to 90 percent of the Bahamian population, making it one of the most prevalent epidemics in The Bahamas.

Periodontal health is affected by oral hygiene, genetic factors, systemic health, and nutrition. Inadequate nutrition can contribute to poor oral health, gum disease and early tooth loss.

Good nutrition plays an important part in maintaining gum health. Furthermore, nutritional factors are implicated in many oral and systemic diseases and conditions, including obesity, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

Periodontal disease is a disease which causes the loss of the supporting bone around the teeth. Periodontal disease robs the person of teeth prematurely, resulting in loss of mouth function, facial support and discomfort during eating. Some symptoms include bleeding gums, loose teeth, receding or swollen gums, bad breath or a bad bite.

Bad nutritional foods are usually highly processed or fried foods:

• High in sugar and fructose corn syrup making it the main contributing factor in early tooth decay.

• Engineered for overconsumption.

• Contain artificial ingredients.

• Created to form addictions to “fast foods”.

• High in refined carbohydrates.

• Low in important nutrients and fiber.

• High in trans fats.

These various food conditions place a tremendous burden on your immune system. Studies show that a weakened immune system predisposes one to gum disease and other chronic diseases. Whole foods, on the other hand, and fresh water are great examples of good nutritional foods. Some examples include organic fruits, fresh vegetables, raw nuts and seeds.

When we don’t have adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables, it limits our body’s ability to heal. The body depends on antioxidants, which get rid of free radicals in our system. Fruits and vegetables are superfoods and have antioxidants for our benefits. Free radicals are toxic by-products of oxygen metabolism that damage living cells and tissues causing us to age and get disease. Vitamins and minerals combat this and therefore are called antioxidants.

Some nutrients are required in large quantities – for example, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. High carbohydrate intake has been implicated in periodontal disease and dental cavities. For example, a sugary diet encourages plaque formation and leads to dental decay.

Proper nutrition goes a long way in managing your periodontal disease while improving your treatment outcomes. The natural consequence is the quality of your life and your well-being is vastly improved.

 • Dr. Kendal V.O. Major is the founder and CEO of the Center for Specialized Dentistry, which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in New Providence and Grand Bahama. He is the first Bahamian specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He is also a certified fast braces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, New Providence. He can be contacted at (242) 325-5165 or For further information visit   

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