Fruit/vegetable supplement helps fight periodontitis

A diet supplemented with a combination of fruit and vegetable juice powder concentrates may help combat chronic periodontal disease when combined with conventional dental therapy, according to a new study (Journal of Clinical Periodontology, October 2011, Vol. 38:10, pp. 894-901).

The results of a preliminary randomized controlled study conducted at the University of Birmingham showed that taking a daily dose of capsules containing concentrated phytonutrients improved clinical outcomes for patients with chronic periodontitis in the two months following nonsurgical periodontal therapy, with additional beneficial changes recorded at five and eight months after therapy.

The study is the first of its kind to report the impact of giving periodontitis patients such a supplement during standard mechanical therapy, according to the study authors.

Volunteers age 30 and older with chronic periodontitis were randomly assigned to one of three groups:

  1. Group A took fruit and vegetable powder concentrate capsules.
  2. Group B took fruit, vegetable, and berry powder concentrate capsules.
  3. Group C took a placebo.

The supplements, which are marketed commercially in more than 20 countries under the name Juice Plus+, were taken daily following nonsurgical scaling and cleaning of the root surfaces of the teeth.

Sixty volunteers completed the two-month review, and 54 completed the eight-month review. Clinical outcomes improved significantly in all groups at two months as expected from the standard mechanical therapy. However, in the groups that took the supplements, the researchers found additional statistically significant improvements in gum pocketing at two months. Improvements in gum bleeding followed at five months and in lower dental plaque levels at eight months.

"This was a very complex study, and we were surprised to see these outcomes because when the standard therapy works so well, it creates a 'ceiling effect' whereby it is difficult to improve further," stated lead author Iain Chapple, PhD, BDS, professor of periodontology at the University of Birmingham in a press release. "It is difficult to assess the size of the additional clinical benefit because these patients were well-nourished and had the highest quality standard therapy anyhow. We are very interested in what the effects will be in people who are nutritionally depleted, and in those who do not or cannot access high-quality periodontal care."

The Birmingham researchers are now leading a large multicenter trial in partnership with researchers in the Netherlands and Germany to test the clinical significance of these findings in an untreated population.

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