According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one out of two Americans over the age of 30 has some type of gum disease. In most cases, this is simple gingivitis, a type of gum disease that can be cured if proper dental hygiene habits are adopted. However, if left unchecked, gingivitis can progress into a more serious type of gum disease known as periodontitis, which can result in tooth loss and even damage to connecting tissue and bone in and around the jaw. Luckily, taking care of your gums is easy if you’re willing to put in just a little bit of effort. Follow these basic tips for healthier gums, even if your dentist said your teeth looked great at your last checkup.
Limit Certain Foods
Processed foods, particularly foods that are high in sugar and starches are not very healthy for your gums and teeth. Processed treats like cookies and cake with icing are some of the worst things you can put in your mouth because of the excess sugar. You don’t have to stop eating these things completely, but if you’re going to eat them, try to find organic, healthy alternatives that aren’t loaded with excess sugar. Fruit sweetened treats also make an excellent alternative. Foods that are high in simple starches like refined pasta should also be limited or replaced for alternatives like whole wheat or buckwheat pasta.
Eat More Raw Foods
Raw fruits like blueberries, which are high in vitamins and antioxidants, and apples, which are packed with vitamins and beneficial nutrients are good for your gums and teeth, and they also make an excellent replacement for sugar-filled products like snack cakes, cookies and ice cream that are bad for your gums. If you’re the type of person that regularly reaches for a snack between meals, try replacing high-carbohydrate foods like potato chips with healthier alternatives like raw baby carrots, celery or broccoli. Even raw nuts make a better, healthier snack for your teeth and gums. Once you get used to eating the raw foods, you won’t miss the processed stuff.
Use Antimicrobial Mouthwash
There’s been some speculation over the last few years as to whether mouthwashes that contain alcohol actually raise the risk of oral cancer and inflammatory diseases of the teeth and gums. Unfortunately, there’s no real conclusive evidence either way, and more research needs to be done. That doesn’t mean you should write off mouthwash completely. Antimicrobial mouthwash that doesn’t contain alcohol can help to kill bacteria and get rid of plaque on the teeth and around the gum line effectively, and they may be able to help soothe irritated gums. Typically, antimicrobial mouthwashes that don’t contain alcohol are made with essential or herbal oils like tea tree, grape seed, oregano or almond oil. You can even make your own mouthwash by mixing a small amount of one of these oils with distilled water, though there are antimicrobial mouthwashes that don’t contain alcohol already for sale in many stores.
One of the worst things you can do to your gums is to bombard them with cigarette or cigar smoke on a regular basis. Tobacco smoke exacerbates the risk of gum disease in people of all ages, and it’s certainly not any good for the rest of your body either. Other tobacco products like chewing tobacco should also be avoided since these can damage and weaken your gums as well.