February 24, 2020
Eating healthy foods can have a positive effect on more than just your waistline. Did you know that certain foods can even promote healthy gums? Since February is Gum Disease Awareness Month, now seems like a perfect time to discuss some healthy foods that will help you avoid gum disease. A dentist is here to discuss a few ways you can change your diet to keep gum disease at bay.
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
When you were younger, your parents probably told you to eat your fruits and veggies. As it turns out, they had good reason to. The act of chewing raw fruits and vegetables, especially crunchy ones, helps scrub your teeth clean as you eat them. It also stimulates saliva production, which washes away leftover food particles and bacteria that can wreak serious havoc on your teeth and gums.
In particular, dark leafy greens like kale and spinach are great choices. They’re chock full of calcium and vitamin C, which has been shown to help reduce inflammation and fight gum disease. Calcium also strengthens your tooth enamel, decreasing the chances that you’ll get cavities.
Other wonderful choices include butternut squash, peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. Shiitake mushrooms are a “super food” that contain lentinan, a compound that fights plaque buildup and prevents bacterial growth in your mouth.
Cut Back on Sugar
When bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar, they produce acids that wear down your enamel and cause decay. To prevent this, try to select low-sugar or even sugar-free snacks. Sticky sweets are some of the worst things out there for your dental health. Chewy candies and gummy fruits snacks can get stuck in the grooves of your molars, allowing the sugar to sit there for hours and giving bacteria ample time to damage your teeth.
If you’re going to eat sweets, do so at mealtimes. The increased saliva production during mealtimes will wash away the excess sugar. Chewing sugar-free gum can also rinse your mouth out if you can’t brush your teeth after eating.
Drink Plenty of Water
Another way to reduce your sugar intake is to substitute sugar-sweetened beverages like juice and coffee with water. When possible, opt for tap water fortified with fluoride instead of bottled water, as fluoride strengthens your teeth and fights cavities. It also helps wash bacteria and food particles out of your mouth that, if allowed to remain there, could result in decay or gum disease.
Since gum disease has been linked to poorer overall health, it’s important that you keep your gums (and your teeth) in good condition. Following these steps, along with brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist regularly, should be enough to prevent gum disease from taking hold.
About the Author
Dr. Blaire Marshall earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center in Oklahoma City. She is a member of many professional organizations, including the Oklahoma Association of Women Dentists, the American Dental Association, the Texas Dental Association, and the Oklahoma Dental Association. She is also currently working toward her Fellowship recognition with the Academy of General Dentistry. If you’re looking for more advice on how to maintain healthy gums in the Katy, TX area, visit Dr. Marshall’s website.
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