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In a recent 2019 study, researchers from the University of Freiburg, Germany have found that an anti-inflammatory plant-based diet can help reduce gingivitis.

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a preventable oral condition in which gum irritation, bleeding and inflammation occurs, usually as a result of bacterial infection below the gum line.

Gingivitis is a common condition and usually precedes the onset of periodontitis. Both are serious forms of gum disease, and if left untreated can eventually result in tooth loss and other oral health complications.

Vegetarian whole food diet helps reduce symptoms of gingivitis in patients

For the trial study, the German researchers changed the diet of the experimental patient group. For four weeks, they were given anti-inflammatory plant-based foods high in:

  • omega-3 fatty acids,
  • vitamin c/d,
  • plant nitrates,
  • antioxidants and
  • fibre

Processed refined carbohydrates and meat were not included in their diet. Whereas the control group had an unchanged diet.

The results of the study showed that although plaque values between the two groups were similar, symptoms of gingivitis – such as gingival bleeding – were significantly reduced in the group on the plant-based diet. Additionally, the patients from this group had higher vitamin D levels and experienced weight loss.

Anti-inflammatory food choices may promote better oral health

The authors of the German study believe that their study results demonstrate the potential oral health benefits of an anti-inflammatory plant-based diet. With regards to gingivitis, the researchers also pointed out that this oral condition may be a possible side-effect of the overconsumption of pro-inflammatory foods.

Pro-inflammatory foods include:

  • Added sugar in the form of cane sugar and high-fructose corn syrup
  • Processed, refined carbohydrates
  • Processed meat
  • Polyunsaturated omega-6 “vegetable” seed oils, such as canola, corn, sunflower, peanut and safflower oil
  • Processed trans fat
  • Alcohol


Johan P. Woelber, Maximilian Gärtner, Lilian Breuninger, Annette Anderson, Daniel König, Elmar Hellwig, Ali Al‐Ahmad, Kirstin Vach, Andreas Dötsch, Petra Ratka‐Krüger, Christian Tennert. The influence of an anti‐inflammatory diet on gingivitis. A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/jcpe.13094