Carbs, sugary diets may impact oral health

Wednesday 16th November 2022 06:12 EST

A new study on postmenopausal women has found links between widely consumed foods and the diversity and composition of oral bacteria. Scientists from the University at Buffalo have shown how eating certain types of foods impacts the oral microbiome of postmenopausal women. They found that higher intake of sugary and high glycemic load foods like doughnuts and other baked goods, regular soft drinks, bread and non-fat yogurts may influence poor oral health and perhaps, systemic health outcomes in older women due to the influence these foods have on the oral microbiome.

In a study, the UB-led team investigated whether carbohydrates, sucrose, or table sugar were associated with the diversity and composition of oral bacteria in a sample of 1,204 postmenopausal women using data from the Women’s Health Initiative.

It is the first study to examine carbohydrate intake and the subgingival microbiome in a sample of exclusively postmenopausal women. The study was unique because the samples were taken from subgingival plaque, which occurs under the gums, rather than salivary bacteria. "This is important because the oral bacteria involved in periodontal disease are primarily residing in the subgingival plaque," said study first author Amy Millen, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health in UB's School of Public Health and Health Professions.

"Looking at measures of salivary bacteria might not tell us how oral bacteria relate to periodontal disease because we are not looking in the right environment within the mouth," she added.

"We examined these bacteria in relation to usual carbohydrate consumption in postmenopausal women across a wide variety of carbohydrate types: total carbohydrate intake, fiber intake, disaccharide intake, to simple sugar intake," Millen said. "No other study had examined the oral bacteria in relation to such a broad array of carbohydrate types in one cohort. We also looked at associations with glycemic load, which is not well studied in relation to the oral microbiome.”

"As more studies are conducted looking at the oral microbiome using similar sequencing techniques and progression or development of periodontal disease over time, we might begin to make better inferences about how diet relates to the oral microbiome and periodontal disease," Millen said.

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