Nutrition is vital for your entire body – including your gums! In recognition of Good Nutrition Month, take a moment this November to learn which nutrients help prevent gum disease.
What is gum disease?
Some background on gum disease: When plaque and tartar stay on teeth for an extended period, the bacteria can inflame gums, resulting in gingivitis. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums. When gingivitis isn’t treated, it can advance to gum disease, meaning “inflammation around the tooth.” Pockets or spaces form as gums pull away from teeth and then become infected. This can cause damage to structures that support teeth and can eventually lead to tooth loss.
Why nutrients matter.
In addition to good oral health habits and regular dental visits, nutrition is an important factor for preventing or recovering from periodontitis. Without proper nutrients fueling your body’s natural processes, you may not be able to fight off infections as easily. This can make you more vulnerable to quicker progression and harsher severity of periodontitis.
What nutrients help prevent gum disease?
Some of the nutrients that encourage gum health include vitamin C, vitamin B12, folic acid and calcium. These key nutrients are easily accessible on a daily basis. Check out some of the richest sources of each:
- Vitamin C: Bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, snow peas and kale
- Vitamin B12: Fish, beef, fortified cereals (watch out for the sugary kinds!), fortified tofu, low-fat milk, Swiss cheese and eggs
- Folic acid: Edamame, lentils, asparagus, spinach, avocados, mangoes and lettuce
- Calcium: Milk, yogurt, cheese, kale, broccoli and fortified cereals (we recommend whole-grain varieties)
In addition to protecting against gum disease, other foods are good for your oral health, too!
- Black and green tea can protect against cavities
- Red wine can fight cavity-promoting bacteria
- Chewing sugar-free gum can prevent plaque buildup
As always, be sure to brush for two minutes twice a day and floss once a day. One of the most significant causes of periodontitis is smoking. If you are able to avoid or quit smoking, it will increase your chances for a successful treatment.