Eat Your Way to Healthier Gums


Story Updated: Aug 8, 2012

Completely You: Food

By Nancy Kalish for Completely You

Want a healthy grin? Then don’t forget your gums. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and is linked to heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. The good news: In addition to regular brushing and flossing, new research shows that eating certain foods will get your gums into tip-top shape. Add these smile-savers to your menu:

Smile Saver 1: Salmon
This flavorful fish contains lots of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce gum inflammation. A recent study found that people who consumed the most omega-3 fatty acids slashed their risk of gum disease by 22 percent.

Smile Saver 2: Strawberries

These berries are full of vitamin C, which builds collagen, an important component of healthy gum tissue. Research shows that consuming fewer than 60 mg of C (the amount in six large strawberries) each day significantly boosts your chance of getting gum disease. But stay away from vitamin C lozenges that contain cavity-causing sugar, and fizzy vitamin drinks, which can erode enamel.

Smile Saver 3: 100 percent Whole Grain Bread
Eating three servings of whole grains each day reduces the risk of serious gum disease by 23 percent, according to a Canadian study, probably because they contain B vitamins and iron, both of which are essential to gum health. Oatmeal, barley and brown rice will work too.

Smile Saver 4: Green Tea

Hot or iced, green tea contains antioxidants that kill the germs that cause gum infections, so it’s no wonder a large Japanese study found that every cup reduces your rate of bleeding gums and inflammation. Bonus: Green tea also helps kill the bacteria that causes bad breath.

Smile Saver 5: Pistachios

These nuts boast a big dose of CoQ10, a powerful antioxidant that has been proven to effectively fight gum inflammation. If you already have periodontal problems, you could have a CoQ10 deficiency. Ask your dentist or doctor if you could benefit from a supplement.

is the managing editor of Completely You. She is a certified health coach, and an editor and writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has covered health, nutrition and oral health for Prevention, Health, SELF, Real Simple, The New York Times and more.

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