Nutrition is Key to Positive Oral Health
Eating a wide variety of nutritious foods helps the immune system battle gingivitis and prevents it from progressing into periodontitis. Also, foods rich in antioxidants such as fruit and vegetables boost your body’s ability to heal damaged tissues. Vitamins C, E, A, and D are especially important in playing a role in oral health.
Vitamin C plays two important roles in the health of gums. First, vitamin C’s antioxidant power blocks damage caused by oxidation. Additionally, vitamin C helps the body produce healthy collagen. Collagen is connective tissue that is critical for maintaining strong gums. Patients who are vitamin C deficient are at increased risk of gum disease. Additionally, smokers concerned with the health of their gums should especially take vitamin C because smoking depletes vitamin C levels in the body.
Vitamin C-rich foods include bananas, broccoli and green leafy veggies.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that fights free radicals and promotes wound healing. Wounds in the gum that become infected act as an underlying cause of gum disease. Therefore, getting enough vitamin E can help treat existing gum disease.
Foods rich in vitamin E include nuts, extra virgin olive oil and breakfast cereal.
Vitamin A is an essential vitamin that is required for optimal immunity. Supplementing with vitamin A or eating vitamin A rich foods can help the body maintain healthy gums, combat bacterial infections and reduce gum oxidation.
Foods abundant in vitamin A include carrots, tomatoes and summer squash.
Vitamin D is commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin” due to the skin manufacturing this essential vitamin after exposure to sunlight. Not getting enough vitamin D heightens risk of gum disease.
In addition to sunlight, dietary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, organic eggs, organic poultry and mushrooms.
Avoid Coffee and Caffeinated Drinks
Coffee affects the mouth in two ways. First, it lowers the temperature of your mouth and gums. Second, coffee reduces the blood flow to the gums. The combination of lowered temperature and restricted blood flow means your gums do not get all of the necessary oxygen needed to continue functioning properly. While this will not directly cause gingivitis or periodontitis, it can contribute to declining gum health.
Caffeinated products, especially coffee, will contribute to a lack of hydration in your body and causes less saliva production, increasing the chance of developing gum disease and cavities.
Green tea however can increase periodontal health. A 2009 study published in Journal of Periodontology, confirmed that participants who consumed green tea had less periodontal disease, as well as an increase in overall periodontal health. Drink one to two cups of green tea daily to boost your oral health.