While the importance of cleaning your teeth is obvious, it is only half the battle when it comes to oral hygiene. Maintaining healthy gums is an essential, and often overlooked, part of dental care.
When you don’t treat your gums well, plaque builds up under and along the gum line and it creates an ideal environment for gum disease to fester. Periodontal disease often starts as gingivitis, a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the gum tissues. If left untreated, this condition can progress to periodontitis, which results in loss of the bone that surrounds the teeth. When bone tissue is lost, the teeth and gums begin to separate, forming pockets that provide an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. Ultimately, the disease may cause tooth loss, painful abscesses, and even systemic inflammation.
Fortunately, gum disease is preventable. Good dental habits like brushing and flossing at least two times a day can prevent infections. Having your teeth cleaned and checked by a dentist every three to four months is also important. No matter how hard you brush, nothing can attack plaque and tartar like a professional cleaning.
There are quite a few foods that, when introduced into the diet, help maintain ideal gum health:
- Chewing on an apple can take a while, but that is a good thing for your teeth. The munching action shakes the plaque loose that clings to your gums. Just be sure to wash your mouth out after enjoying the apple, as the natural sugars could harm your enamel.
- Ginger root is a strong anti-inflammatory agent. The herb can be used to help swelling of the gums and promote healthy tissue in your gums.
- Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt or cheese, are not only loaded with bone-strengthening calcium, but also with a protein call casein, which lowers the acidity in your mouth. Dairy products can neutralize the acids produced from plaque as well.
- Leafy greens are well known to be a healthy food for your body, but they are also successful at keeping your gums clean. Their benefit comes from all the fiber packed into the greens. They require some serious chewing and some extra saliva to break down, neutralizing acids in the process.
- Yes it will give you bad breath, but raw onion is a strong bacteria-killing superfood. Onions have an active ingredient that attacks bacteria, specifically four bacteria strains that cause gum disease. Make sure to pop in a breath mint after following this tip.