Healthy gums are essential for healthy teeth. To be honest, you really can’t have one without the other, but gums are often neglected in normal dental hygiene routines. Not looking after your gums can lead to all sorts of problems – irritation of the gums leading to bleeding, damage to supporting bone and fibres, loosening teeth or even losing teeth completely in cases of advanced periodontitis. Getting healthy gums isn’t difficult, but it does take a bit of effort on your part with some extra time and attention required.
Changing Your Diet
There are certain foods that help keep your gums healthy that you should try and incorporate into your diet, if you don’t already. Beyond limiting the sugary sweets and harsh acidic foods in your diet, there are foods that are good for your gums.
- Ginger Root. A powerful food used for centuries with its many health benefits, ginger root is also a powerful combatant of gum disease. Ginger root helps fight gum disease by neutralizing acids formed by bacteria. As a powerful anti-inflammatory, ginger can also help protect against periodontal diseases that cause the loss of supportive connective tissue and bone in the mouth.
- Apples. Eating an apple can take some time and that’s great news for your teeth and gums. The munching and chewing action causes a sort of “cleansing effect” that shakes up the plaque and bacteria that clings to your gums and teeth. Eat more apples, but be sure to brush, floss, and rinse afterward. Even foods like apples can expose your mouth to acids and sugars that can cause problems for your teeth and gums.
- Milk. Milk, and other dairy foods such as cheese and yogurt are not only packed with bone-fortifying calcium, but also with the protein casein, which research suggests reduces acid levels in the mouth. In addition, drinking milk can neutralize acids produced by plaque bacteria. Keep in mind that drinking milk with cereal or dessert doesn’t have the same benefit as direct consumption after eating. No milk around? Eat a piece of cheese instead.
- Onions. Well, this may seem counterintuitive in some ways, since we often think of onions (and the bad breath they leave behind) as a bad choice when it comes to our oral habits, but the raw onion is an extremely powerful bacteria-fighting food. Onions actually have antimicrobial agents that kill bacteria and, according to studies, completely wipe out up to four bacteria strains that lead to gum disease, including Porphyromonas gingivalis and Prevotella intermedia.
- Leafy Greens. Leafy vegetables and greens such as asparagus, broccoli, kale, cabbage, spinach, and turnip greens are also very helpful when it comes to developing a well-balanced diet that also combats gum disease. They provide valuable antioxidants and vitamins for your body, including vitamin E and folic acid. The ADHA has pointed out that those who are deficient in folic acid are also in more danger of developing the harmful plaque and bacteria that leads to gum disease. Vitamin E, similar to vitamin C, helps protect your cells from damage, including your gum’s cells.
Patients often wonder just why smoking is so bad for their gums, and there are several reasons for this that stem primarily from the lack of oxygen to blood cells that smoking causes. Smoking makes it harder for your gums to fight off infections, and contributes to longer healing times after any gum damage. It also leads to more build up of dental plaque, which worsens any gum issues already present. For healthy gums, try to kick the habit to feel better.
Smoking can affect your gums in various ways, take these into consideration:
- Plaque and Tartar. Chemicals in tobacco products affect saliva flow in the mouth, making it easier for oral bacteria to stick to teeth and gums. Filmy, bacteria-laden plaque can develop on teeth and along the gum line. If not removed daily, it can harden into tartar, also known as calculus, a substance so hard it requires a professional cleaning to remove.Smokers are three to six times more likely to develop gum disease or periodontal disease, which can attack roots and cause teeth to fall out. Even smokeless tobacco products can irritate gum tissue, causing gums to loosen around teeth, making it easier for bacteria to settle in and develop decay.
- Interferes with blood circulation. Smoking affects the normal function of gum tissue, causing infections and restricting blood flow. It also delays healing after oral surgery for dental implants, tooth extraction or treatment of gum disease. This makes the recovery process difficult. When brushing or flossing, smokers may notice that their gums bleed easily.
- Oral Cancer. According to WebMD, about 90 percent of people diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, throat or lips used tobacco. Smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop oral cancers.
- Directly Affects Teeth and Breath. Smoking can stain teeth to a yellow color and also cause bad breath.
Brushing your teeth is crucial, but not enough if you want great gums. You need to floss too in order to get the plaque and food debris that your toothbrush can’t reach, and we would recommend that you floss twice a day for maximum results. Some people find that their gums bleed when they floss – this should resolve itself over a short period of time as your gums become healthier, but if you are concerned you aren’t flossing properly talk to us and we can give you some tips and advice to do this painlessly.
Regular dentist visits for cleaning
For all-round good oral health including getting (and keeping) great gums, you should schedule twice annual visits with your dentist for checkups and cleaning. This will ensure all the tartar is removed from your teeth, and your dentist can monitor your gum health more closely.