Gum Health: How Nutrition Can Promote Healthy Gum
Copyright @angeline Oppenheimer
Imagine a house on a decayed foundation, eaten by termites or compromised by the shaky ground underneath—diseased gum is very much the same way. Unhealthy gums cannot support healthy teeth—sooner or later, the teeth will be affected. A staggering 80% of the American people have some form of gum disease. Gum disease, or the fancy word for it—Periodontal disease—usually starts slow with oral neglect or bad eating habits. Bacteria in the mouth produce acids that interact with sweet and starchy foods to form plaque (a sticky film of bacteria) that can harden into tartar if not cleaned away. This build-up of tartar eats away at the gum, causing inflammation, the beginning of periodontal disease, otherwise known as gingivitis. If it is allowed to progress, the gums will separate from the bone structure at the gum line, forming pockets housing bacteria that will in turn wreck even more harm, causing bone loss and eventual tooth loss.
Are there risk factors or are you just predisposed to the disease because of bad gene? While bad gene can certainly play a part, most factors are external and can be controlled with some knowledge and this is what this hub tries to do—to equip you with the know-how to maintain healthy gums for good and save you lots of dental bills.
- · Smoking: Smokers are 5 times more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers. Nicotine in the tobacco causes the constriction of blood vessels, limiting the distribution of much needed oxygen and nutrients to the gum tissue. Undernourished gum tissue is more vulnerable to bacteria.
- · Poor Oral Hygiene: In order to maintain healthy gums, brushing ( at least twice a day) and flossing ( at least once a day) is as essential as cleaning out the car after a road trip. Plaque hardens into tartar within a 2 or 3 day cycle. For more thorough cleaning, use an interdental aid like a dental pick. Visit your dentist/hygientist for professional cleaning. Tartar is hard and can only be removed with some medical intervention.
- · Snack habits: If you love sweet, starchy foods, watch it. The bacteria in your mouth will be having a feast at your expense. Limit sugary snacks or brush your teeth after eating them.
- · Poor Nutrition: Food always affects our health, even gum health. We will look at this closely as this is crucial in helping us maintain good gum health.
- · AIDS/HIV Infection can lower your defense mechanism and make it harder to fight bacteria in your mouth.
- · Certain Cancer Chemotherapies or medical treatment with steroid drugs.
Proper Nutrition Can Promote Gum Health
Since food is a big part of our lives, picking smart and informed choices of foods can give us an added edge against unhealthy gums. We can effectively fight gum-related diseases with the proper choices of foods:
A water soluble vitamins found in beef, eggs, liver, cheese, salmon, fortified milk and fruits and vegetables, vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant, destroying free radicals out to cause cellular damage, even those on the gums.
Studies show that people who consumed less vitamin C tend to be 25% more likely to suffer from gum diseases. Vitamin C is required for the formation of healthy connective tissue, bones and teeth. It also assists the utilization of other vitamins. Load your diet with sources of vitamin C—bell peppers, citrus fruits, papayas, guava, broccoli, potatoes, spinach, radishes and watercress.
Vitamin D and Calcium
Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, so called because the body actually makes it from sunlight. Together with calcium, another important contributor to bone health, they are form a formidable duo of protecting and maintaining bone health, teeth included. Vitamin D facilitates calcium and phosphorus absorption. Enjoy sunshine, sardines, herring, tuna, salmon, fortified milk and cereals, green leafy vegetables (spinach, chard, collard greens), yogurt, low-fat dairy products, liver and cod liver oil.
Next to calcium, phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body and 80% of it is found in bones and teeth. Although it is involved in many critical functions, its main purpose is to build strong bones and teeth. A healthy balance of calcium-phosphorus (2:1) ratio is important for proper utilization of these minerals. Eat these: almonds, broccoli, eggs, low-fat dairy products, green peas, fish, liver, and lean meats.
Green tea has longed enjoyed stardom as a disease-fighter, from cardiovascular disease to cancer to good skin. A recent study published in the Journal of Periodontology uncovered yet another benefit: green tea consumption can promote healthy teeth and gums. How? Green tea’s potent antioxidant, catechins interferes with the inflammatory response of periodontal bacteria, reducing inflammation of the gums( a sign of periodontal disease).
A Few Good Points to Remember
Promoting gum health is not difficult if you remember a few tricks. Since fruits and vegetables are resplendent in vitamins (see ones mentioned above), snack on them. Munching on hard, fibrous foods, such as celery sticks, carrots, chunks of broccoli or cauliflower can stimulate gums and keep the gums pink and healthy. Instead of consuming sweet desserts after a meal, consider eating aged cheese as it can help prevent cavities if it is consumed at the end of the meal. If you love chewing gum, opt for sugarless gum. Chewing gum remove food particles stuck in between teeth and it also serves to dilute acids generated by bacteria. Rinsing your mouth after a sweet snack helps to remove sugar and starch residue and avoid sweet sticky foods as they tend to cling to your teeth. Culprits: Dried fruits, taffy, toffee, caramel.
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