Gums are the most overlooked part of a healthy, gorgeous smile.
Teeth get all the attention. We want to flash our pearly whites to the world.
But you need healthy, strong pink gums to hold your teeth. Or, your teeth will not look so happy.
When gums recede, they expose the roots of your teeth. That’s what’s meant by calling someone “long in the tooth.” It’s a sign of neglecting your gum health for many years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of all Americans over the age of 30 have periodontitis, the advanced form of gum disease.
What is Gum Disease
The first stage is known as gingivitis.
The gums become inflamed because of the presence of harmful bacteria. They become red and swollen.
The next stage is periodontitis, where the gums recede. The tissues and bone in the gums that support teeth become destroyed.
This can lead to lose, painful teeth. They can even fall out.
The buildup of plaque on your teeth contributes to this chronic inflammation and gradual destruction of the gums.
Risk Factors Include:
* How much (or little) you take care of your teeth
* Overall health
Notice that you have control over all these risk factors except age and genetics.
All Chronic Inflammation is Harmful
Research reveals an association between periodontitis and other diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
They’re all linked by chronic inflammation. However, science hasn’t yet decided whether they’re simply all caused by general inflammation or whether inflammation in your gums causes inflammation in other parts of your body.
In the end, it doesn’t matter. Reducing general inflammation in your body through diet, exercise and lifestyle will lower your risk of chronic disease – and taking good care of your gums will lower their inflammation.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
* Loose or painful teeth
* Exposed roots
* Bleeding from the gums
* Gum tenderness or pain
* Gums that are bright red, not pink
Here is What You Can Do to Improve Oral and Gum Health
1. Brush your teeth multiple times a day, especially before going to bed
Gum inflammation is a response to bacteria in your mouth. And they’re in your mouth because they feed on food – the stray bits and particles that remain after you finish eating.
2. Floss at least once a day, especially before going to bed
Brushing your teeth is important, but the bristles don’t get at the pieces lodged between your teeth. That’s why floss was invented. It removes up to 80% of dental plaque.
Which comes first? A scientific study compared the results of flossing then brushing to brushing then flossing.
The winner: flossing then brushing. That removes significantly more plaque.
3. Cut down on saturated fat
People with high blood levels of cholesterol – indicating they consume a large amount of saturated fat – have a higher risk of periodontitis.
Saturated fat increases inflammation, so that may explain the connection.
4. Consume more Omega-3 fats
A meta-analysis of studies on treating gum disease with DHA and EPA was recently published in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease.
The studies were not consistent, but periodontists gave patients fish oil supplements of DHA and EPA along with standard treatments for periodontitis.
They usually found those patients improved in clinical attachment level (the tissues holding teeth strengthened), probing level, gingival index and plaque index.
The studies used fish oil supplements, but you can get DHA and EPA without the risk of taking in PCBs and other ocean contaminates. Just take DHA and EPA algae supplements instead. (These oils are all created by algae anyway. Fish oil is a source of Omega-3s only because the ocean fish eat the algae.)
You can also eat more ALA, which is a precursor to DHA. It’s found in chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, edamame, walnuts and kidney beans.
5. Eat much more fiber
The bacteria in our mouths is connected to the bacteria in our guts – the microbiome.
There’s no way to brush and floss out the bacteria lining our intestines, and that’s a good thing. When most of the 100 trillion bacteria in our colon are beneficial, they have an enormous positive influence on our health.
That includes lowering inflammation.
Studies have documented that people who eat a low fat, high fiber diet have less gum inflammation – even even despite poor oral hygiene.
6. Eat lots of antioxidants, especially Vitamin C and Lycopene
Studies have shown eating foods rich in those two antioxidants improves gum health.
7. Eat Vegetables Containing Nitrates
These include beets and dark green leafy veggies.
The body converts them into nitric oxide, and the NO relaxes your blood vessels, improving blood flow to gums and lowering inflammation.
A dietary intervention trial demonstrated that subjects who consumed a high NO drink improved their gingivitis compared to the control group.
And it took only two weeks.
8. Swish wheatgrass powder in water 2X daily
Some dentists recommend this, saying wheatgrass’s chlorophyll lowers your oral inflammation and eliminates harmful bacteria and plaque.
I’m not sure how much science backs up these claims – but a personal friend of mine claims it stopped the looseness of teeth.
I put just a quarter teaspoon of organic wheatgrass powder into an ounce of water, then swish for five minutes. Spit out.
NOTE: Many people recommend oil pulling, which is swishing coconut oil around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes every morning.
However, the practice carries the risk of the oil getting into your lungs and causing lipoid pneumonia so it’s important not to swallow the oil while swishing.
A beautiful smile means having healthy teeth. Healthy teeth means having healthy gums. Use these 8 tips to strengthen your gums and you’ll be smiling ear to ear.