A bitten piece of chocolate in a dental jaw mockup on a blue background. The concept of the effect of sugar and leftover food on teeth and tooth enamel. Tooth destruction by bacteria, caries, pulpitis. Copy space for text

The Role of Nutrition in Preventing Gum Disease

Healthy gums are the key to a great smile. Gum tissue helps your teeth stay in the best condition possible; healthy gums also help you devour your favorite foods without pain. As living tissue, gums need a steady supply of fluids and nutrients to stay healthy. Nutrients help build and maintain gum tissue by strengthening it. While the human body makes some of the nutrients the gum needs to stay healthy, you get all or most of your essential nutrients from food. This means that what you eat can help you in preventing gum disease.

About Gum Disease

Gum disease is an infection that affects the gum tissue, which holds teeth in place. It is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults—nearly half of adults ages 30 and older have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Gum disease worsens over time as a progressive condition. There are two main stages: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. It develops when bacteria and plaque, a sticky, colorless substance, build up on teeth. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen, and bleeding gums.

Left untreated, gingivitis can progress into the later, more severe stage, known as periodontitis or periodontal disease. In periodontitis, mild swelling turns into gum inflammation. Severe and prolonged inflammation can cause the gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, creating pockets between the teeth and gums. Plaque and bacteria can enter these pockets, introducing infection deep into the tooth roots and jawbone. Bleeding and pain in the gums worsen, and teeth may become sensitive or loose. Other symptoms of periodontitis include pain while chewing and persistent bad breath.

Untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss. Periodontitis is associated with respiratory diseases, coronary artery disease, rheumatoid arthritis, problems controlling blood sugar, preterm birth, and low birth weight.

Certain factors increase the risk of gum disease. Most of these risk factors are modifiable or under your control to change. The National Library of Medicine lists the modifiable risk factors for gum disease as:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Osteoporosis (weak bones)
  • Type 2 diabetes is a condition marked by high blood sugar
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome – a cluster of conditions that occur together; these conditions include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, too much body fat around the waist, and irregular cholesterol levels

Addressing your modifiable risk factors can help you prevent gum disease. If you smoke, stop; don’t start smoking. Cut back on alcohol or stop altogether.

Vero Beach Dentist Discusses the Role of Nutrition in Gum Disease Prevention

Nutrition plays an essential role in gum health. You may have noticed that many risk factors for gum disease, such as diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome, are related to nutrition. The connection between food and some risk factors, such as osteoporosis, may need to be clarified.

Sugary foods and drinks promote gum disease.

The bacteria that cause gum disease feed on the sugar in your food and drinks. Sugary drinks, such as sugar-sweetened coffees, energy drinks, and soft drinks, are the leading sources of sugar in the American diet.

Reducing sugar intake can help prevent gum disease by creating a less hospitable environment for disease-causing bacteria.

A diet that contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome

Certain foods can contribute to the development of conditions that promote gum disease. Sugary drinks, energy drinks, sugary breakfast cereals, white bread, white rice, red meat, bacon, ham, sausages, pork, beef, and lamb are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties, reducing inflammation that causes symptoms and forming pockets. It also strengthens the blood vessels and connective tissue that keep your teeth firmly in your jawbone. Foods rich in vitamin C include strawberries, pineapple, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and more.

For more information about nutrition’s role in preventing gum disease, consult with Vero VIP Implants & Periodontics. Our dentist in Vero Beach, FL, is the area’s leading expert in preventing and treating gum disease.