We specialize in treating people with gum recession and are often asked questions about what they could have done to prevent gum disease in the first place. As such, we regularly read medical studies addressing this common health issue. Some people have a genetic predisposition to getting gum disease while other people suffer from poor oral hygiene and a lack of health care. Additionally, people with diabetes and pregnant women are at an increased risk for the condition.
While some people are more likely to struggle with their gums than others, a recent study out of the University of Boston indicates that there may be a natural way to help your gums stay healthier. Researchers wanted to find out if coffee had any positive or negative effect on gum health. In order to find the answer, they turned to the Department of Veteran Affairs and data they had collected over thirty years. During this time, the VA collected dental exam records and food intake surveys from over 1,100 men in the Boston area. This is a significant amount of data and provided researchers with the information they needed to determine the long-term effects of coffee.
While analyzing the data, they found that men who drank a cup of coffee or more per day had fewer teeth with bone loss. This led lead author, Raul Garcia, D.M.D. to conclude that drinking coffee is good for the health of your gums. In order to understand why coffee could be good for your gums or prevent gum recession, it is important to understand how gum disease works.
Gum disease typically starts because bacteria has gathered on the surface of the gums and got in between the gums and teeth. People that have restricted blood flow to their gums are at a greater risk for the disease spreading because restricted blood flow can make gums swell. The bacteria can also make gums swell, and this is typically the first sign of the disease. If it is caught in these early stages, a dentist can perform a deep cleaning to remove the bacteria so that the gums can start to heal naturally. If, however, the disease is allowed to continue, gum recession will start to occur. When gums recede, pockets are created in the tissue and bacteria will often gather there. Since the tooth structure is exposed, the bacteria will then attack the tooth and can lead to bone loss inside of the tooth. In many cases, teeth fall out as a result.
Coffee is an anti-inflammatory, so researchers concluded that the men who drank it regularly were preventing their gums from swelling. Since this is the first sign of gum disease, by preventing or reducing swelling, they could have been preventing or reducing their risk of gum disease in general. It stands to reason that people with less gum disease would also have fewer teeth with bone loss. We would like to see additional research conducted but for now it appears that drinking a cup of coffee every day could reduce your risk for gum disease and gum recession.