Gums are literally the foundation to great dental health. They secure the teeth, are the center for the oral bones that comprise the jaw, and fight against bacteria every day. Unfortunately, gum disease is extremely common —affecting half of adults age 30 and over, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But in addition to flossing, brushing, and seeing your family dentist regularly, one of the easiest things you can do is eat a good diet. Certain foods can be hard on your gums, other foods can be beneficial. Here are our top 5 foods to avoid and enjoy in order to maintain beautiful gums and great dental health.
5 Foods to Avoid for Better Gums & Dental Care
1. Ice cream
Anything high in sugar is bad for your teeth —you probably already knew that, but it’s always worth remembering. Foods with excessive sugar like cookies, sodas, or candy bind to the gums and trigger the release or eroding acids. Ice cream is a double whammy because the icy temperatures further irritate the gums where tissue has already started wearing away. This exposes the roots to hot or cold sensations so you feel them more. You don’t need to cut out sweets like ice cream completely, but you should limit them. And always rinse your mouth with water afterwards.
2. Oranges & Citrus Fruits
Oranges and other citrus fruits like grapefruits, lemons and limes are acidic and high in natural fruit sugar. This can damage and erode the teeth and gums. This includes citric juices. You can still maintain a diet rich in vitamin C by taking supplements or eating veggies like broccoli, asparagus and peas. Other fruits with low citrus content but high amounts of vitamin C include cantaloupe, honeydew melon and kiwi.
Like oranges, tomatoes are also highly acidic. They are healthy in other ways —they’re rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to lower stroke risk, for example. When eating tomatoes, it’s important to pair them with acid-neutralizing foods like mozzarella, lean beef or chicken, nuts, lentils or tuna.
Most people don’t realize that bread and chips can be just as hard on their teeth as some candy. Too much can be terrible for your gums and overall dental health. This is because these foods contain a high amount of starch —simple carbohydrates that dissolve into simple sugars. Mouth bacteria thrive on these starches, which leads to acid producing tooth decay and gum erosion. White bread is especially high in starch. Stick to whole wheat and limit how much you eat.
5. Sports Drinks
Sport drinks can actually be worse than soda because they pack a double whammy —they are high in sugar and highly acidic. In fact, a 2012 study found gums and teeth are attacked by the acid in sports drinks, after five consecutive days of exposure to them. If you or your children drink sports drinks after exercise, switch to water. It’s better for you —and great for dental care.
5 Foods to Enjoy for Better Gums & Dental Care
Onions are wonderful for gums because they have microbial properties that naturally neutralize plaque causing bacteria. Add them to salads, burgers, soups, chilies, and stir fries.
2. Green Tea
Green tea is rich in antioxidants that help to stave off inflammation in the body, including your gums. …Which is why a diet rich in green tea is great for dental care. It’s particularly high in catechins which help gums fight inflammation caused by oral bacteria responsible for gum disease. Try drinking a cup of green tea daily. It’s a great afternoon perk to stave off late in the day drowsiness.
3. Celery, Carrots, Apples
Crunchy foods are excellent for scraping off food and plaque. The hard teeth can get in between the teeth and food crevices to clean your mouth in between brushing and flossing. These foods also happen to be high in fiber, so you tend to chew them longer. This in turn produces extra saliva that further wash your teeth and gums for better dental care. These foods make great snacks because they essentially clean your teeth between meals.
4. Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese
Dairy products are high in calcium, a mineral that strengthens bone, so they’re great for your teeth. But they are also wonderful for gums because of a protein called casein that neutralizes oral acids that are produced by bacteria in the mouth. This bacteria can irritate and erode your gums, so a diet high in dairy can help prevent gum disease. Drink a cup of milk daily, or eat a diet rich in cheese, yogurt or sour cream.
5. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like lettuce, kale and spinach are rich in vitamins and minerals that are great for the mouth, especially vitamin C. A diet rich in these vegetables boosts the production of red blood cells and reduces inflammation, which helps prevent irritation and gum disease. Because these foods are high in fiber, they require a high amount of chewing, which produces saliva that further washes your gums and teeth and prevents tooth decay and disease.