Many people have heard that milk is good for their bones and carrots are good for their eyes. These nutrition recommendations are well-known, but you may not know which foods, if any, are good for your gums. Here's what current nutrition research says about the best foods for gum health.
In the UK, half of all adults have some form of irreversible gum disease, according to the UK government website, with this condition most commonly seen in those aged 60 to 64. People with early-stage gum disease, known as gingivitis, may notice that their gums are swollen and red. Their gums may also bleed. Left untreated, gingivitis can advance to a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis. People with this more severe type of gum disease may experience their gums pulling away from their teeth, their teeth loosening or even their teeth falling out.
Gum disease is caused by the bacteria in plaque. Bupa explains that these bacteria can infect the gum tissue, leading to inflammation and disease. To remove the bacteria that cause gum disease, remember to brush your teeth twice per day and floss once per day. In addition, you should see your dentist for a comprehensive periodontal evaluation at least once a year. A well-balanced diet may also help to keep your gums healthy.
At the moment, the research linking specific foods to better gum health is limited. However, scientists have drawn a number of conclusions from the research that is available regarding some nutrients that may benefit gum health.
- Vitamin C
Foods that contain vitamin C may reduce gum inflammation, according to an article published in Frontiers in Nutrition. People who are deficient in this important vitamin may get scurvy — a disease that causes inflamed, bleeding gums. The NHS notes that many fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C, but some of the best sources include citrus fruit, berries and leafy greens.
- Vitamin B12
An article published in the International Healthcare Research Journal suggests that vitamin B12 may support gum health. People who are deficient in this vitamin may have bleeding gums and some studies have found a link between low B12 levels and severe gum disease. The NHS explains that animal products, such as milk, eggs and meat, are good sources of B12. In addition, some cereals are fortified with B12.
- Omega-3 fatty acids
A diet that's rich in omega-3 fatty acids may play a role in keeping your gums healthy, too. As a study published in BMC Oral Health reports, there is evidence showing that omega-3 fatty acids help to regulate inflammation in the gum tissues. Some good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed oil and fish.
While some foods have been linked to good gum health, others have the opposite effect. Dental Nursing explains that poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums. In particular, a diet high in refined carbohydrates may be connected to gum inflammation, concludes the BMC Oral Health study. Refined carbohydrates include foods such as white bread, pasta and cereals, explains Bupa. In general, as outlined by the NHS, a high-sugar diet puts you at higher risk for tooth decay due to the formation of plaque on your teeth by bacteria.
Next time you take a trip to the supermarket, try adding some foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids to your trolley. By keeping up with a healthy, well-balanced diet, you'll be doing a favour not only for your gums but for your overall bodily health, too. To learn more about the best foods for gum health, talk to your medical or dental professional.