When people are worried about healthy gums and the disease gingivitis, they often turn to Google to find out more (inflammation of the gums).
It’s also common to focus on foods to avoid to keep your gums healthy, but be careful: you will find a lot of results that seem pretty similar.
We’ll advise you how to keep your gums healthy and why controlling your diet closely is only part of the solution at best.
There are so many foods to avoid that it would be hard to just list them all.
The list quickly looks like a set of rules, so it’s natural to wonder what you can eat and drink.
Things that stand out
You already knew that sugary foods and drinks are bad for you. It is neither possible nor desirable to cut sugar out of your diet completely, but cutting back on sugar, especially refined sugars, is good for more than just your teeth.
For an alternative to these sugars Xylitol is often suggested. For example, xylitol-sweetened gum helps to neutralise the acidity of plaque, which is a good thing.
Sweets and energy drinks are obvious sources of sugar, but common snacks like dried fruits are also a problem.
Sugar added to tea and coffee is the same (and, spoiler alert, more on those drinks later). Sugars that stay in your mouth for a long time and could stick to your teeth are worse than sugars that you swallow quickly. If you can, stay away from lollipops and cough drops.
Acidic foods can cause cavities by eating away at the enamel on your teeth. They can also make a good place for harmful bacteria to grow. But acid is in more than just pickles and alcohol. Tomatoes and citrus fruits are also high in acid, even though they seem like healthy foods.
Acidic foods have less of an effect when eaten with foods that neutralise acid, like chicken or lean beef. However, just like sugar, acidic foods can’t be completely cut out of a diet. We will need a plan that goes beyond just changing things that aren’t working.
Foods that dry the mouth should be avoided because they make less saliva, which is the best defence against bacteria.
Most of the time, it’s drinks like alcohol and coffee that cause this.
It’s easy to see how things can come together to make a good place for bacteria to grow and gingivitis to show up, with one or two cups of coffee, and maybe some wine or beer after work, and that’s before we get to the next baddie.
Do you eat sandwiches or maybe a bag of crisps with your lunch? That might seem like a good choice, but in reality, these simple carbohydrates stick around in your mouth and break down into simple sugars that bacteria love.
Try to steer clear of soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks if you can. They don’t even taste as good as a nice cup of coffee or a good glass of wine.
Gingivitis and Periodontitis
If bleeding gums and gingivitis are not treated, they can lead to periodontitis, a more serious condition.
Periodontitis is much worse than gingivitis because it eats away at the bone and gums. This can cause teeth to become loose, and in the long run, you could lose your teeth.
We’ve already talked about how most adults have gum disease in some way. Three facts about periodontitis stand out.
• It was revealed that 54% of adults showed moderate signs of the disease during a recent national survey of dental health
• A survey done in 2009 found that 37% of adults have periodontitis that is mild to severe or that lasts for a long time. 11% of adults around the world have been found to have severe periodontitis
• Periodontitis is the sixth most common disease in the world. There is a lot of evidence that it hurts overall health and shortens life
Periodontitis can often go unnoticed and untreated for years or even decades. This is because the first signs are often the same as those of less serious gum problems, like swelling and bleeding. But in the long run, it does much more damage and needs to be treated by a periodontist.
Given that gingivitis is easy to treat and periodontitis is so bad for your teeth, you should really make an appointment.
If you want to learn more about your gum health from a hygienist or periodontist, please get in touch with us at Coombe End Dental.