Foods For Healthy Gums

by Dr. Macon Singletary // April - May - June 2022

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 foods they eat have a direct impact on 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 veggies 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 brushings. It’s a good thing there’s an abundance of delicious seasonal fruits and veggies that can be found at farmers markets and grocery stores right now! 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 – again, great springtime fruits and veggies! 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 plant-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.

Dr. Macon Singletary

DDS with North Raleigh Periodontics, located at 7805 Fiesta Way in Raleigh. Dr. Singletary is a diplomate with the American Board of Periodontology and has been improving smiles in the Raleigh area for over 25 years.