When it comes to gum health and overall health, it’s a matter of the chicken and the egg: which comes first? It may be surprising that there’s a strong link between these two things, but research has shown time and again that there is! It makes more sense when you realize that everything is connected when it comes to your health. And since the mouth is a gateway to the rest of the body, it’s easy to see why healthy gums are so important. In this article, we’ll discuss some dietary changes you can make to improve your gum health and all the reasons why your gums are so important for keeping your mouth (and the rest of you) healthy.
Why is Gum Health Important?
When you think about your dental health, you probably focus on keeping your teeth healthy by preventing cavities. While cavity prevention is certainly important, there are additional concerns to think about, including your gums.
Your gums act as the foundation for your teeth, so your dentist is concerned about the health of both – much the same way you’d want to make sure that your house has a strong foundation before you put on a new roof.
Gum tissue supports and protects not only your teeth, but the jawbone that holds them in place. In severe cases of periodontal disease (gum disease), people’s teeth can become loose and fall out even if they’ve never had a cavity because the supporting structures have been lost.
In addition to affecting the health of your mouth, your gums also affect your entire body. A wealth of research in the last 20 years has shown that having healthy gums can reduce your risk for all of the following diseases:
- Heart Disease
- Cognitive Decline
- Pregnancy Complications
Clearly, it makes sense to take great care of your gums!
What Can You Do For Healthy Gums?
Before discussing how your diet can make a difference, the advice you’ve heard before still applies. Brush twice and floss once every day, and be sure to get regular checkups and cleanings.
As for dietary changes, these foods will not only improve your gum health, but will also benefit you from head to toe:
Dairy – A protein in dairy foods called casein neutralizes acids in the mouth that can cause decay. Low-sugar yogurt is especially helpful because it has beneficial bacteria.
Leafy Greens – Greens have a wide array of vitamins and minerals that your gums need to be healthy, and you’ll get additional benefits from the fiber content.
Green Tea – Drinking green tea each day will reduce inflammation in your gums and your entire body.
Apples, Carrots & Celery – The crunch and fiber content of these foods stimulate salivary flow and help clean the teeth and gums. They’re a great snack between meals.
Onions and Shitake Mushrooms – These foods have chemical compounds that counteract the bacteria in the mouth.
By adding these foods to your diet, you’ll be on your way to better oral health for life!
About the Author
Dr. Tom Pastor is a general, restorative and cosmetic dentist who enjoys helping his patients improve their health in every way. In addition to providing highly skilled and compassionate dental care, he keeps his patients up to date on the many ways they can achieve excellent oral health. He can be reached for questions via his website or at (207) 645-9522.