We've been taught from a young age how foods rich in calcium are good for your teeth. Well, healthy gums are just as important, and there are a ton of delicious options when it comes to food for healthy gums. According to the American Dental Association, oral health is dependent on proper nutrition and good eating habits. From fruits and veggies to hearty nuts and breads, many of your favorite natural snacks actually encourage good oral health.
Of course, a regular dental routine—including brushing your teeth with toothpaste, flossing, and using mouthwash—is the key to oral care, but the right foods can also help to keep your mouth strong and healthy.
Here are a few examples of food for healthy gums.
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but this fibrous fruit can also help you impress your dentist. An article from the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) explains that fibrous fruits such as apples and pears help to clean your teeth while also encouraging salivation. This ultimately stimulates the gums and reduces cavity-causing bacteria.
Almonds and Other Nuts
The UIC also recommends almonds as a bacteria-fighting food that is rich in calcium and beneficial to both teeth and gums. Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, and peanuts are also full of nutrients that promote healthy teeth and gums.
Green and Black Tea
It may come as a surprise to learn that green and black tea support oral health, considering its reputation for staining teeth. The University of Rochester Medical Center explains how green and black tea contain "polyphenols that interact with plaque bacteria." These polyphenols prevent bacteria from attacking teeth and gums. If you are concerned about tea stains on your teeth, swish some water around in your mouth when tea time is over.
Because sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, eating them will help "maintain the mucous membranes and soft tissue of the gums," according to the UIC. Consider swapping out french fries for a tray of home-baked sweet potato fries as a delicious way to support your teeth and gums. Or, try some other healthy sweet potato recipes, such as sweet potato butternut squash soup or double-baked sweet potatoes with walnuts (a bonus healthy gum ingredient!).
Processed white flour can stick to your teeth, but breads and pastas made from whole grains (as well as brown rice and oatmeal) have complex carbohydrates which, according to the UIC, are less digestible to bacteria. Whole grains are also an important component of a balanced diet, so it's a win-win.
Tips for Maintaining Oral Health
Along with maintaining a good diet, the ADA encourages people to take the following steps to boost their oral health:
- Avoid sugary drinks.
- Stop snacking between meals.
- Chew sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals to prevent tooth decay.
A diet focused on food for healthy teeth and gums is easy, delicious, and will make you—and your dentist—want to smile.
What are your favorite recipes for dishes incorporating foods for healthy gums? Check out more tips for a natural, healthy lifestyle on the @tomsofmaine Smart Snacking board on Pinterest.
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Why It's Good
Eating food for healthy gums is good for oral care as well as overall health. With delicious and nutritious options such as sweet potatoes, apples, almonds, and more, your next snack is bound to put a (healthy) smile on your face!