First Evidence Found Of Link Between Gum Disease And High Alcohol Consumption, Low Dietary Antioxidants

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Oral biologists from the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine have shown for the first time that heavy alcohol consumption or a diet low in antioxidant vitamins can increase the risk of developing gum disease.

The findings have implications beyond gum disease since bacteria from gum infections have been shown to play a role in heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, in addition to destroying gum tissue and bone.

Both studies were presented here today (March 13) at the combined meeting of the American Association for Dental Research and International Association for Dental Research.

The research was conducted in UB's Periodontal Disease Research Center, directed by Sara G. Grossi, D.D.S., senior research scientist. Both studies used data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), a population-based survey conducted in the U.S. from 1988-94.

For the alcohol/periodontal disease study, researchers analyzed data from 6,492 subjects between the ages of 20 and 90 selected randomly from the full sample. Persons who reported consuming alcohol from any source were divided into four groups based on consumption level, starting with five drinks per week or less and progressing to 20-per-week or more.

For periodontal-disease analysis, the subjects were divided into two groups based on attachment level, the amount of gum detachment from underlying bone.

Linking the data on alcohol consumption and attachment level showed a direct dose-response relationship between the amount of alcohol consumed weekly and severity of gum disease.

"As alcohol consumption increased from five drinks per week to 10, 15 and 20, the risk of periodontal disease rose from 10 percent to 20, 30 and then 40 percent," Grossi said. "When we see that kind of relationship, we know the findings are solid."

Grossi theorizes that alcohol may increase periodontal-disease risk in several ways: by dec

Contact: Lois Baker
University at Buffalo

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