Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, typically associated with red, swollen and bleeding gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to a more advanced gum disease known as periodontitis. Regular dental checkups and cleaning is essential for the health of your gums. Your health care provider may also recommend certain foods that can promote oral health and reduce your risk for gum disease. The American Dental Association recommends a variety of healthy food options from all basic food groups.
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Citrus and Other Fruits
Citrus fruits are well known for their vibrant color, scent and taste. They include oranges, mandarins, tangerines, lemons, limes and grapefruits. Citrus fruits provide essential vitamins and are sources of antioxidants, particularly vitamin C. Low intakes of vitamin C are linked to poor immune response and individuals who are deficient of the vitamin are at greater risk for gum disease, according to the American Dental Hygienists' Association. Cleveland Clinic Hospital notes that vitamin C found in citrus fruits can also promote tissue repair in the body and fight off infection. Be aware that citrus fruits are also highly acidic, which may have a negative effect on tooth enamel. If you consume citrus juices use a straw to keep the acid away from your teeth, or consume other fruits high in vitamin C, which include kiwi, currants, acerola cherries, mangoes and berries.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Greens or leafy vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, kale, cabbage, spinach and turnip greens are also part of a well-balanced diet. Similar to fruits, they provide beneficial vitamins and antioxidants, particularly vitamin E and folic acid. The ADHA notes that individuals who are deficient of folic acid are more susceptible to harmful plaque that promote gum diseases. Cleveland Clinic Hospital also recommends green leafy vegetables for gum health because of their vitamin E content. Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E is a vitamin that has beneficial antioxidant abilities that protect cells from damage.
Fatty fish such as cod, salmon, tuna, trout, sardines and herring provide protein and essential fatty acids known as omega-3. One study published in 2010 in the "Journal of American Dietetic Association" observed the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on periodontitis. The study found that higher intakes of omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a reduced risk for gum disease. The protein found in fatty fish may also support immunity. The ADHA notes that adequate intake of protein is necessary to support a healthy immune system and fight off infection.
Nuts are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and essential fatty acids. Some good examples of nuts include cashews, almonds and walnuts. Zinc is an essential mineral that is found in nuts. The ADHA notes that individuals with zinc deficiencies are also more likely to suffer from bacteria that cause gum disease.