At our family dentistry practice in Cincinnati, we stress the importance of healthy teeth — but a great gums are the very foundation (literally) of dental health. And while brushing and flossing are just as important to healthy gums as they are for healthy teeth, diet is also key. Of course, we always recommend limiting sugar, sodas, and even heavy acidic and citrus foods. But what we encourage is the right kind of fruits and veggies. These can not only provide critical nutrients needed for healthy gums and teeth, but they can also help clean the teeth — removing chunks of food from the crevices of your teeth.
Here are 7 of the best foods for healthier gums.
Celery, Apples, Raw Carrots
Crunchy foods can help scrape away food and plaque, cleaning your teeth. You’re teeth will actually feel cleaner afterwards! These foods are also high in fiber and harder to chew. This encourages saliva which can further cleanse your teeth — especially around the gum line.
Onions are awesome for teeth and gums because they neutralize the bacteria that causes plaque and cavities. We encourage our Cincinnati patients to mix them in with everything — salads, chilis, stir fries, soups, and on sandwiches and hamburgers.
Shiitake mushrooms are rich in lentinan — an antibacterial compound that fights against plaque-building bacteria in the mouth. What’s great about this bacteria is it can get in hard to reach places between the teeth and along the gums. Eating a healthy dose of shiitake mushrooms can help prevent gum disease and gingivitis. Shiitake mushrooms are delicious sauteed and served up as a side to a main course or mixed into a veggie stir fry.
Veggies like kale and spinach are jam packed with vitamins and minerals that are great for gums. They are loaded with vitamin C — which boosts the production of red blood cells while reducing inflammation. Leafy greens are high in fiber, so they encourage more chewing, which causes your mouth to produce more saliva. This further helps to cleanse your teeth from built up plaque and food particles. We always encourage our Cincinnati patients to eat lots of salads and top their sandwiches and burgers with spinach leaves. Kale is a tasty addition to a stir fry!
Green tea is rich in antioxidants — especially catechins which help gums fight inflammation caused by oral bacteria. A daily cup of green tea lifts up not only your spirits but the vibrancy of your gums. It’s a nice mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Milk, Yogurt, Cheese
Any dairy product is great for teeth because it’s high in calcium — which strengthens bones. But dairy is also rich in a protein called casein that helps to neutralize oral acids that are produced by bacteria in the mouth. This is awesome for gums! These acids can eat gum tissue. Drink milk. Eat a little yogurt for breakfast. Enjoy cheese as a topping to many foods or just by itself.
Peppers & Citrus
Veggies like peppers (all colors are great) and acidic fruits like oranges, kiwis, pineapples, and strawberries are loaded with vitamin C. This helps reduce inflammation. Include lots of peppers and these fruits in salads or by themselves. They make a healthy and delicious snack.