At our family dental practice in Newberg, OR, Dr. McLeod stresses the need for her patients to take care of their oral health so they can lower their risk of dental disease and decay. Of course, looking after the health of your teeth in order to prevent tooth decay is only part of what it takes to practice quality oral hygiene. You also need to take care of your gums.
Your gum tissue surrounds the base of your teeth to provide a protective seal around the delicate roots and nerves that keep your teeth healthy. When neglected, gum tissue can become inflamed and begin to recede from the base of your teeth. This allows harmful oral bacteria to attack the base of your teeth, leading to tooth sensitivity and tooth loss.
Fortunately, by brushing and flossing daily you can eliminate the harmful bacteria in the mouth that can damage gum health. You can also add certain foods to your diet that may help you to have healthier, stronger gums.
With that in mind, here are a few foods that help promote gum health that you can add to your diet.
Apples offer a great source of fiber that acts as a cleansing agent. Apples also contain malic acid that increases saliva flow, which acts as nature’s toothbrush. Saliva works to flush food particles and bacteria from your mouth, so any type of food that increases the amount of saliva your mouth produces actually works to protect your oral health.
Seeds and Nuts
Seeds and nuts are slightly abrasive in texture, and actually help to scrub the surface of your teeth clean of plaque when eaten. The omega-3 fatty acid found in flax seeds and walnuts has also been shown to help lower the risk of gum disease.
Foods High in Vitamin C
Early stage gum disease – commonly known as gingivitis – causes the inflammation of gum tissue. When your gums become inflamed, they bleed easily, becoming sensitive and swollen.
While gum disease has been linked to a variety of long-term oral and overall health problems, the disease starts off as a simple infection of your gum tissue. This is where eating foods rich in vitamin C – such as oranges, kale, red peppers, etc. – can help lower your risk of gum disease.
Vitamin C helps to boost the body’s immune system, allowing it to better fight off infections like gingivitis. Not only will a diet high in vitamin C rich foods help improve your oral health, it will so also lower your risk of developing the types of colds and flu that become common as we move into the fall season.
Much like vitamin C helps to improve the body’s immune system, vitamin D works to strengthen calcium deposits in the body, such as your bones and teeth. Milk, cheese, and fatty tuna are all types of foods high in vitamin D that work to strengthen your teeth while also restoring vital minerals that are stripped by plaque in a process known as remineralization.
Milk also has the benefit of helping to neutralize acid levels in the mouth. Your mouth requires a balanced pH level to enjoy the best health possible. Drinking milk works to restore this balance after eating highly acidic foods – such as some of those rich in vitamin C – which makes a glass a day a perfect complement to your diet.
Cranberries are considered by many nutritionists as one of the healthiest foods around. Not only have cranberries been shown to help fight inflammation, they also contain antioxidants called proanthocyanidins that prevent plaque and other harmful oral bacteria from sticking to the surface of your teeth.
Just make sure that you thoroughly rinse your mouth after eating dry cranberries to remove any lingering bits that might be stuck to your teeth.
Thyme oil has been shown to successfully lower your risk of tooth decay, gingivitis, and even bad breath. That’s because thyme oil has natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties that allow it to kill harmful oral bacteria. Thymol, an active component in thyme oil, is actually used in some types of dental varnishes that help to protect teeth from the effects of decay.
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So there you go. Adding any of these foods to your diet will not only help to improve the health your teeth and gums, but will also help to improve your overall health as well.
If you have any questions about the types of foods best suited to helping protect your oral health, feel free to ask Dr. McLeod during your next visit to our family dental practice in Newberg, OR.