High-Sugar Diet Linked to Periodontal Disease

Dentistry Today


As sweet soft drinks and excessive sugar increase the risk of dental caries and periodontal disease, healthy eating habits need to be prioritized more, according to researchers at Aarhus University whose work reviewing the past 50 years of clinical literature suggests that sugary diets can promote periodontal disease as well as tooth decay.

“Sugar hasn’t traditionally been associated with the development of periodontal diseases. It’s true that back in the 1970s two American researchers suggested that a diet which was high in carbohydrates could be a common risk factor for both dental diseases and inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, but this knowledge was largely forgotten again,” said Dr. Bente Nyvad of the university’s Department of Dentistry and Oral Health.

“Today, there is general agreement that the above-mentioned diseases are associated with a high sugar intake. However, a hypothesis that could link and explain the two major dental diseases, caries and periodontitis, has been lacking,” said Nyvad, who led the research. 

The study led the researchers to a common hypothesis for the development of the two major dental diseases, caries and periodontitis. The hypothesis is based on the biochemical processes that take place in the bacterial deposits on teeth when you add copious amounts of nutrients to the bacteria, particularly when you eat sugar. 


“In other words, we revive the ‘forgotten’ hypothesis that sugar can promote both dental cavities and periodontal diseases,” said Nyvad, who emphasized the importance of continuing to brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, even if you cut down on sugar.

The researchers assume that periodontal diseases caused by sugar belong to the group of inflammatory diseases in line with diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Nyvad therefore recommends that healthy eating habits should be given much higher priority if the goal is to avoid expensive treatment in the healthcare system.

The study, “Integrated Hypothesis of Dental Caries and Periodontal Diseases,” was published by the Journal of Oral Microbiology.

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