While most people realize that flossing, brushing, and visiting their oral health professional are integral components of maintaining oral health, many do not know that the very foods they choose to eat have a direct impact upon their periodontal well-being. That’s right- your diet uniquely affects your gum’s ability to clear away plaque and calculus, freshen your breath, and strengthen and regenerate gum tissue.
Crunchy foods are great at scraping away bacteria and calculus that accumulate along the gumline. Fresh fruits and vegetables like apples, cucumbers, celery, and carrots not only scrape at bacteria, but they also help eliminate food particles between the teeth and keep the breath fresh between tooth brushing. Moreover, crunchy, fibrous foods take longer to chew, generating more saliva which in turn helps flush the mouth of bacteria near the gum line. Adding fresh, fibrous, crunchy fruits and vegetables to your diet will help rid your mouth of food particles, freshen your breath, and clear away plaque that accumulates around the gums.
It may be surprising to learn that consuming moderate amounts of dairy products can also improve one’s gum health. Bacteria produces oral acids in our mouths which, unless carefully controlled, will irritate and eventually destroy our teeth and gums over time. However, dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese contain a protein called casein that helps to neutralize oral acids formed in the mouth. To help naturally negate bacterial acids that break down the teeth and gums, consume a reasonable amount of dairy.
Also, foods rich in vitamin C offer a plethora of periodontal benefits. Vitamin C is powerful! It strengthens blood vessels by boosting the production of red blood cells, helps repair and regenerate gum tissue, and possesses anti-inflammatory properties found naturally in foods. Add some color to your diet with vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables like peppers, oranges, kiwis, pineapple, strawberries, kale, and spinach. Other foods with high vitamin C content include fortified foods like breads, grains, cereals, potatoes and tomatoes. Your gums will thank you for adding such foods into your diet.
Additionally, foods containing polyphenols contribute to gum health through the powerful antioxidants of which polyphenols are composed. Antioxidant-filled polyphenols slow bacterial growth that cause gum disease, cavities, and bad breath, and these polyphenols are abundant in plants-based foods. Such foods battle degenerative and infectious diseases through antioxidant activity and by neutralizing bacterial proteins. In fact, recent research increasingly demonstrates that foods high in polyphenols may even effectively combat oral cancer. You can easily add foods dense in polyphenols to your diet by drinking coffee and green tea, eating olives and pumpkin, adding spices likes cloves and cinnamon to your dishes, and even indulging in dark chocolate.
Finally, simply sipping some old-fashioned H2O helps strengthen teeth and gums, fights inflammation, and prevents tooth decay. Water does all this by helping keep saliva levels up and washing away food particles. Furthermore, water contains minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium that strengthen teeth and gums, fight inflammation, and prevent tooth decay.
To conclude, the very foods we put into our bodies directly impact our periodontal health, for better or for worse. By being intentional about what you eat and drink, not only can you impact your physical well-being, but you can also greatly improve your periodontal health.