Supporting gum health nutritionally

As a qualified dental hygienist as well as a nutritional therapist, I often see patients’ experiencing symptoms such as bleeding gums. Bleeding gums are a sign that there is inflammation and this is caused by an immune response in response to the ‘bad’ bacteria in the mouth. Good oral hygiene is essential in order to remove the bacteria and to keep the gums healthy.

As well as having regular visits to the dentist and dental hygienist, there are other measures that can also be taken to support gum health including:

  • Stopping smoking - Smoking shuts down the circulation to the gums. Research has shown smoking to be linked to poor healing and worse outcomes of gum disease. Smoking also depletes nutrients including zinc and vitamin C, important nutrients for gum health.

  • Medication – Certain medication can also affect the health of the gums. If you are taking medication and have gum disease, it is worth consulting a nutritional therapist to see how you can optimise your diet.

  • Gut health – Most of the immune system is located in the gut and so optimal digestive health supports healthy gums. The beneficial bacteria are crucial for immune health. Include foods such as natural yoghurts, fermented foods such as kefir and prebiotic foods that support the growth of the beneficial bacteria such as oats, garlic, chicory, leeks and onions.

  • Limit processed and refined foods such as white sugar and the trans hydrogenated fats that may promote inflammation.

  • Include sufficient protein with all meals/snacks (lean red meat, poultry, dairy, nuts, seeds, eggs and fish, lentils and pulses) which are important for growth and repair of tissues.

  • Include the omega-3 fatty acids for their anti-inflammatory properties. Sources include oily fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel (sorry tuna in a tin doesn’t count!). Other sources include walnuts and flaxseeds.

  • Eat a wide variety of different coloured fruit and vegetables which contain a variety of nutrients to support and protect the cells from damage.

  • Include the herbs and spices such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, thyme and rosemary.

  • Get some sun without burning - Most of vitamin D is synthesised in the skin from the sun, and vitamin D supports gum health.

  • Maintain a healthy weight - Obesity is an inflammatory condition so this may have a negative effect on gum health.

  • And finally having healthy gums is important for general health. There is evidence linking poor oral health and an increased risk of chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, chronic disease can increase the risk of gum disease, so supporting both gum health and general health is important to minimise inflammation.

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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