You Are What You Eat, From Your Gums Down to Your Feet

Sept. 21, 2001
Popcorn the main culprit of foods harmful to periodontal health.

CHICAGO � September 14, 2001 � Nearly 65 percent of periodontists report that they believe nutrition plays a major role in the status of their patients' periodontal health, according to a poll conducted recently on the American Academy of Periodontology's (AAP) Web site. And to improve oral health, about three out of four periodontists have recommended consuming more vitamin C to patients.

Detailed Results of Nutrition Survey

More than half of the 135 periodontists polled report that either they or their staffs talk to patients on a regular basis about the role of good nutrition in maintaining good oral health. "I tell them that a well balanced diet is important for the body and subsequently the mouth's health," said one responding periodontist. "I inform my patients that vitamin C is important for tissue health and calcium is important for bone health."

The majority of periodontists recommend calcium supplements and multivitamins for patients who are not getting adequate amounts from their diet. Many patients seem to listen to this advice. In a separate poll of consumers visiting the AAP's Web site, nearly 57 percent of 477 respondents said they have tried improving their diet to help improve periodontal health.

"Research has proven that people who consume inadequate amounts of calcium and vitamin C have higher rates of periodontal disease," said Michael McGuire, D.D.S., president of the AAP. "However, many other nutrients likely play a role in maintaining good periodontal health too."

Conversely, some foods are best avoided to maintain good periodontal health. The top culprit chosen by periodontists was popcorn, because the husks can get caught in between the teeth and gums and cause abscesses.

A referral to a periodontist and free brochures including one titled Something to Smile About are available by calling 800-FLOSS-EM or visiting the AAP's Web site at

The American Academy of Periodontology is a 7,500-member association of dental professionals specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth and in the placement and maintenance of dental implants. Periodontics is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.

For more information about the press release or survey results, contact Amanda Widtfeldt at 312/573-3243 or [email protected].