***UPDATED: May 27, 2014*** It has long been acknowledged that the food and drinks you consume have an impact on your oral health. Carrots and apples have been recommended for cleaning your teeth when brushing is not an option, while green tea kills cavity-causing bacteria and fights halitosis (to name just a few). Similarly, consuming high quantities of soda and coffee are known to wear down enamel and cause discoloration. Red wine has always been a part of the later group, thought to destroy teeth with its acidic nature and staining power, but a recent study says otherwise. Researchers have actually found that red wine, along with grape seed extract, has the potential to fight cavities by slowing bacterial growth, as reported in a recent Science Daily news article. Salud!
There are many different reasons to pay attention to your oral health. For example, making a first impression is crucial in many situations, and studies have shown that a person’s smile leaves a lasting impression. Taking care of your mouth allows you to maximize your best attribute. Recent research has also linked oral disease to several other medical conditions, including dementia, diabetes, and heart disease, making oral health a large factor in your overall well being. More and more people are talking about the importance of dental care and oral hygiene, but what many don’t realize is that it’s not just your teeth that you need to be concerned with. Your gums play a critical role in oral health as well, and in addition to visiting your dentist regularly, there are steps that you can take at home to better the condition of your gums.
Did you know that there are particular foods that you can add to your diet to improve the health of your gums? Nancy Kalish, editor of Completely You, an online health resource, listed 5 foods to add to your diet in her article, “Eat Your Way to Healthier Gums.” These super foods include:
- Salmon: This fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have several health benefits, including reducing inflammation of the gums. Recent research suggests that those who consume the most of the nutrient cut their risk for gum disease by 22%.
- Strawberries: Vitamin C, found in strawberries, builds collagen which is an important component of healthy gum tissue. Natural sources of vitamin C are recommended as lozenges and fizzy vitamin drinks contain loads of sugar, which eats away at your enamel.
- 100% Whole Grain Bread: Consuming 3 servings of whole grains a day may reduce your risk of gum disease by as much as 23%, thanks to the B vitamins and iron that help promote gum health.
- Green Tea: Whether you take it hot or cold, green tea is loaded with antioxidants that kill germs that can cause gum disease. Plus, green tea can also fight halitosis, or bad breath, by killing those bacteria as well. Bonus!
- Pistachios: These nuts contain large amounts of CoQ10, which is a powerful antioxidant, shown to reduce gum inflammation.
You cannot have a healthy mouth without having healthy gums. One of the most common dental conditions is gingivitis which, if left untreated, can lead to periodontal disease, and eventually the loss of teeth. While brushing, flossing, and eating nutritiously helps, regular trips to your dentist are critical in achieving and maintaining good oral health.