Gingival inflammation induced by food and short-chain carboxylic acids

S. Kashket, J. Zhang, R. Niederman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Earlier studies in our laboratories demonstrated that particles of a number of snack foods that are retained on the dentition accumulate fermentable sugars and short-chain carboxylic acids (SCCA; acetic, formic, lactic, and propionic) to different degrees. The present study was undertaken to test the hypothesis that the accumulated SCCA can induce a gingival inflammatory response. Five periodontally and medically healthy subjects were given portions of plain doughnuts (high SCCA levels) or oatmeal cookie (low SCCA), or had the SCCA applied directly to the gingival margins of designated teeth. Subjects were given wax to chew, or nothing, as controls. Inflammation was assessed by measurements of subgingival temperature, flow rates of gingival crevicular fluid (GCF), and neutrophil emigration into GCF. Subgingival temperatures of the maxillary gingiva rose by 1.32 ± 0.30°C (mean ± SE) 5 min after the subjects consumed the doughnuts and remained elevated for at least 1 hr. These values were significantly higher than those obtained from subjects after ingestion of oatmeal cookies (0.63 ± 0.17°C; p < 0.01), consistent with the low levels of SCCA in the retained cookie particles. Wax chewing elicited a similar response, indicating a masticatory effect on the gingiva. Gingival temperatures in the unchallenged controls remained unchanged. Neutrophil emigration into the GCF was significantly elevated in subjects after doughnut consumption. Rinses with a solution of SCCA, or application of the SCCA to the gingiva, also brought about significant elevations in subgingival temperature and neutrophil emigration. The findings describe the inflammatory effects of food ingestion on the gingiva of healthy human subjects, and support the hypothesis that SCCA in the particles of retained food are at least partly responsible for the observed responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-417
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of dental research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998


  • Food retention
  • Gingival inflammation
  • Metabolic acids
  • Neutrophils
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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