Posts for tag: gums
Here are some of my go-to food and drink choices that maximize nutrients for our bodies and our teeth. They all offer benefits to build healthier teeth and gums, prevent tooth decay and fight infection by neutralizing harmful acids, providing vitamins and minerals for tooth enamel and stimulating saliva production.
Things like breads, citrus, sugary sweets produce acid-causing tooth decay. Eating cheese, which is high in calcium, raises the pH level in our mouths and can counteract that acid erosion.
- Fatty Fish
My personal favorite, salmon, contains plenty of vitamin D which helps the teeth, gums and body absorb much-needed calcium.
- High Fiber Vegetables and Fruit
The fiber in vegetables and fruit acts like tiny scrub brushes and promotes saliva production, discouraging plaque buildup. Vegetables and fruits also have a high water content which aids in hydration.
While not a food by itself, xylitol is a sweetener found in sugarless gum that fights tooth decay by killing bad bacteria. Chewing gum increases saliva which prevents both tooth decay and bad breath.
- Green Tea
Admittedly I do not drink tea much, because I favor coffee. Green tea, however, contains polyphenol antioxidants which interact with and kill plaque-forming bacteria. Those bad bacteria feed on the sugars in your mouth, but the polyphenols in the tea prevent the forming of acids from those bacteria that destroy tooth enamel.
- Leafy Greens
Another personal favorite of mine that I eat daily. Kale, spinach, romaine for example contain folic acid and again, the calcium. Folic acid purportedly helps with gum disease.
Almonds are an excellent source of calcium, vitamin E, magnesium and fiber. Vitamin E is said to help reduce gum pain and inflammation.
Preferably whole-fat Greek yogurt. The good bacteria from probiotics are not only excellent for your digestive tract, but they also protect your mouth against gum disease by countering the bad bacteria. Yogurt is another great source of calcium.
According to the American Dental Association, oral health is one of the first clear areas affected by a poor diet. Sugars cause cavities, tooth decay and gut inflammation, in addition to harming overall immune system. You can start by making small changes that add up. By making better choices we can improve our oral and overall health and encourage our bodies to heal naturally.
Lately, in our practice, we have been singing the praises of using a water pik. While I still recommend flossing, I must admit that I floss less now since getting back to using a water pik regularly. It’s a whole new kind of clean. Through independent and university clinical research, studies show the benefits of using a water pik (sometimes called an oral irrigator or water flosser). Water piks improve gum health and reduce gingivitis by removing plaque and bacteria. They are able to clean between teeth and below the gum line where a toothbrush or floss may not. The pulsating flow of water is gentle on the gums and less likely to cause bleeding in people with sensitive gums that brushing and flossing sometimes do. Water piks are also great for people with limited dexterity. Often when patients hate to floss or find it uncomfortable for sensitive teeth and gums, their oral health is negatively affected. Using a water pik is a reasonable and effective alternative or addition to the regimen. People who suffer from periodontal disease and those undergoing orthodontic treatment find the water pick’s small bursts of water helpful in dislodging food particles and bacteria. I recommend using a water pik to my patients with implants as well. It also massages and increases blood flow to the gums. Water piks are a great tool for reducing discomfort while effectively cleaning the teeth and gums.
There are both home and portable versions available. Home versions use electrical outlets and portables operate on batteries. They can sometimes spray unwanted water around the counter and mirror if you aren’t careful, which is why I like to just take my portable along in the shower. Both home and portable versions offer a pulsating stream of water, but some allow you to adjust the pressure settings, which we recommend especially for sensitive teeth and gums. Our favorite water pik is a portable one that several of us in our practice have been using and really like, The Waterpik Cordless Advanced Water Flosser. And, for the record, I do not get any affiliate credit for recommending. You can find it on Amazon and Best Buy. If you have questions about this or any other water pick, please ask Dr. Ellison.
Gum recession is a condition I get asked about a lot. It’s a concern of many patients. Sometimes a “toothy” looking smile can be due to gum recession. When gums recede they pull away from the tooth and expose some of the root. This can appear unattractive but can also be a discomfort. Gum disease can certainly play a huge role in causing gum recession, but another cause is simply genetic predisposition. Whether you have thick or thin gum tissue makes a difference. Thinner gum tissue is more susceptible to wear as you age whereas thicker gum tissue is much less vulnerable to inflammation and trauma. Incidentally, I have wondered if there could also be a link to canker sores and thinner gum tissue, but that is a topic for another time. The role of gums forming a tight collar around the tooth’s enamel anyhow, is to protect the tooth’s roots and bone from a potentially traumatic area of eating and chewing foods and brushing teeth. Gums are attached to the teeth, but if compromised by disease or trauma can recede and expose the root portion of the tooth. Some patients do not realize they have gum recession and others may experience sensitivity to hot or cold.
One of the main causes of gum recession is periodontal disease (gum disease), a bacterial infection that can eventually lead to bone loss. If this occurs, small pockets are created and can attract more bacteria which can lead to further gum and bone damage. Poor dental hygiene is a major reason for gum disease. A lack of regular brushing, flossing and routine dental cleanings often leads to sticky plaque, containing toxins and further leads to infection and inflammation. The plaque, if left untreated, can then form tartar. This can initiate a whole host of problems, potentially affecting overall health.
Another major cause of gum recession is actually, believe it or not, aggressive brushing. Brushing teeth vigorously in a back and forth motion can put excessive wear on the gums. I have also had a few patients who had this problem with electric toothbrushes. While it isn’t the case for all who use an electric toothbrush, it can occur. I recommend a soft-bristled brush and remind patients just as our hygienists do, to brush in a gentle circular motion.
Gum recession can also be the result of a tooth emerging in the wrong place without adequate bone support or insufficient amounts of gum tissue. This could be a natural occurrence or due to orthodontics.
Whatever the cause for gum recession may be, there are ways of treating it. After examining a patient’s gums, sometimes it can simply be a matter of altering the oral hygiene routine. The biggest factor in determining how to proceed is in whether the gum recession is continuing to progress or is stable. It is imperative to have the mouth healthy and free from inflammation to avoid recurrence. For some patients, we may do a procedure of scaling and root planning to remove sticky plaque, tartar and reduce or eliminate inflammation. Afterwards, we might use a tooth-colored restorative composite for a small area. There are also various types of gum grafting for more extensive cases of gum recession. The main thing is that there are appropriate solutions for each patient.