Gum health is important, and we don’t think about it as often as we should. The assumption is that they’re healthy, so why bother looking? This could prove to be a disastrous mistake, as the health of your gums is tied to your overall health.
That got your attention, didn’t it?
What are gums exactly?
The soft skin of your gums is there to protect your teeth, forming a tight seal that acts as a barrier against bacteria that cause disease. Taking care of your gums means cleaning off food particulates that form plaque and tartar, which can lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease. Failing to remove plaque can cause the release of toxins that result in the inflammation and irritation of the gums.
What do I do?
Truly, gums are your mouth’s hero. They are the foundation for your teeth, jawbones, and are the frontline defenders against bacteria and mouth diseases. Brushing your teeth, flossing daily, using a therapeutic mouthwash, and scheduling regular visits to your dentist can help keep your gums healthy.
However, there is something else your can do for your gums and your overall health: Think about your nutrition. What we put in our body has an effect on our health and how we feel. We want to make sure our gums are getting the help they need, so let’s talk about some gum-healthy foods you should consider adding to your diet (if you haven’t already).
1. Onions and Leafy Greens
Onions have beneficial effects generally, but when it comes to the gums, they assist in neutralizing oral bacteria. Now, we’re not suggesting that you eat a raw onion for breakfast. It is easy to slice up onions and put them into a stir-fry, on salads, on sandwiches, or even on a burger. It should also come as no surprise that leafy greens like spinach are not only great for your heart, but are also high in Vitamin C, which assists in reducing inflammation. Leafy greens are great because they increase salivary production, flush out food particulates, and are high in fiber.
2. Green tea
While not a food per se, green tea is high in antioxidants, which contribute to lowering inflammation throughout the body. Specifically, green tea has catechin, which targets the oral bacteria responsible for gum disease. Green tea is also a great substitute for coffee, so it is easy to integrate into your diet.
3. Peppers and citrus fruits
You’ll notice that Vitamin C is a key component in a lot of the foods we are listing here, and peppers are no exception. Acidic fruits (like kiwis, pineapples, and oranges) are also very high in Vitamin C, which is an anti-inflammatory. Peppers go great in salads and a stir fry; citrus fruits can easily be included in smoothies and as yogurt toppers.
4. Shiitake mushrooms, celery, carrots, and apples
Lentinan, the antibacterial compound, destroys plaque-building bacteria and it is found in shiitake mushrooms. Fortunately, these kinds of mushrooms are very easy to integrate into a meal. You can chop them up and sauté them into just about any dish. Celery, carrots, and apples all share one commonality: crunchiness. And it should come as no surprise that these high-fiber, crunchy foods help generate more saliva, which helps flush out the gum line. Apples are easy to eat alone, or you can add them to a salad. Carrots and celery are simple additions to any salad or stew.
5. Milk, yogurt, and cheese
Dairy is high in calcium, which helps strengthen your bones. Casein, a product found in dairy, helps to neutralize acids created by bacteria. These acids eat away at tooth enamel and gum tissue, so casein is a welcome assistant in helping with gum health. You’ve heard the old adage: drink a glass of milk a day for strong bones. Here, it can help with gum health as well. Yogurt is another easy addition to almost any diet.
Eat right for optimal gum health
While brushing, flossing, and mouthwash help with gum health, there are a few diet-related things you can do to help stave off gum disease. Adding crunchy fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, and dairy products can go a long way toward helping neutralize the bacteria that contributes to gingivitis and periodontal disease. If you’re unsure of what other foods might be helpful, then ask your dentist during your next scheduled cleaning.