How Dietary Nitrate Boosts Oral and Overall Health: A Review

Jim Crocker
13th May, 2024

How Dietary Nitrate Boosts Oral and Overall Health: A Review

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Study at Newcastle University finds dietary nitrate, like in beets, boosts oral health
  • Dietary nitrate changes mouth bacteria, increasing pH, and reducing sugar damage to teeth
  • It also lessens gum inflammation, which can help prevent gum disease and related health issues
Understanding the impact of what we eat on our health is a complex science, and one area where diet plays a crucial role is oral health. Poor oral health is not just about cavities and gum disease; it can influence our overall well-being, affecting how we eat and increasing the risk of various chronic diseases. One dietary component that has sparked interest among researchers is dietary nitrate, commonly found in vegetables like beets. A new systematic review by scientists at Newcastle University[1] has delved into the effects of dietary nitrate on oral health, uncovering some promising findings. The study is a systematic review, which means it carefully examines a collection of previous research to draw broader conclusions. This type of research is particularly valuable because it compiles individual studies that may be too limited on their own to make definitive claims. By analyzing data from randomized controlled trials (RCTs), which are the gold standard in clinical research, the review provides a high level of evidence for the effects of dietary nitrates on oral health. The review included nine articles with data from 284 participants. Most studies used beetroot juice as the nitrate source, with interventions lasting from a single day up to six weeks. The findings were significant. Dietary nitrate supplementation was shown to increase the relative abundance of certain bacterial genera in the mouth, including Neisseria and Rothia. This is important because the composition of the oral microbiome—the community of microorganisms living in our mouths—has been implicated in oral health. For instance, previous research has demonstrated that children with severe early childhood caries (S-ECC) have a different plaque microbiome than their caries-free peers[2]. The current review suggests that dietary nitrate could influence the oral microbiome in a way that promotes health. Moreover, the review found that dietary nitrate increased salivary pH and reduced salivary acidification after consuming a sugar-sweetened beverage. This is significant because a higher salivary pH means less acidity, and it's the acidic environment that contributes to tooth decay. Saliva's natural ability to combat oral bacteria is partly due to nitric oxide (NO), which is formed in the mouth from salivary nitrite, a product of dietary nitrate[3]. This mechanism aligns with the review's findings, supporting the idea that dietary nitrate can help neutralize the harmful effects of sugar on teeth. Additionally, dietary nitrate appeared to decrease the gingival inflammation index, indicating less gum inflammation. This is relevant as inflammation is a hallmark of gum disease, which, if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss and has been linked to systemic conditions like heart disease. The implications of these findings are broad. For example, in the elderly, poor oral health and the swallowing of dysbiotic (imbalanced) oral microbiota have been associated with increased pneumonia risk[4]. The current review suggests that dietary nitrate could potentially help maintain a healthier oral environment, which could be particularly beneficial for this vulnerable population. To sum up, the systematic review by Newcastle University provides compelling evidence that dietary nitrate, readily available in certain vegetables and beetroot juice, can have a positive impact on oral health. By favorably altering the oral microbiome, increasing salivary pH, and reducing gum inflammation, dietary nitrate emerges as a potential nutritional strategy for improving oral health. This review not only contributes to our understanding of the relationship between diet and oral health but also opens up new avenues for preventing and managing oral diseases through dietary interventions.



Main Study

1) Effects of dietary nitrate supplementation on oral health and associated markers of systemic health: a systematic review.

Published 11th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Microbiome Associated with Severe Caries in Canadian First Nations Children.

3) Antimicrobial effect of acidified nitrite on periodontal bacteria.

Journal: Oral microbiology and immunology, Issue: Vol 16, Issue 4, Aug 2001

4) Tongue Microbiota and Oral Health Status in Community-Dwelling Elderly Adults.

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