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Gingivitis: What Foods to Avoid to Help Keep Gums Healthy

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The obvious items

Food or drink high in sugar – you knew this one already. It is neither possible nor desirable to completely remove sugar from your diet, but limiting sugar intake, and especially refined sugars, is beneficial for a lot more than just dental hygiene.

Xylitol is often recommended as an alternative to these sugars, for instance chewing gum sweetened with xylitol helps to neutralise plaque acidity and so has some beneficial effects.

Sugars are of course found in sweets and energy drinks, but common snacks such as dried fruits are also problematic. So too any sugar added to tea and coffee (and, spoiler alert, more on those drinks later).

Sugars that linger in your mouth, potentially coating your teeth, are worse than those you swallow quickly – so avoid those lollipops and cough sweets when possible.

Acidic food – acidic foods can eat away at your tooth enamel and lead to cavities, they can also create an environment in which harmful bacteria thrive.

However, acid is not only found in the evident culprits like pickles and alcohols, otherwise healthy foods such as tomatoes or citrus fruit are high in acid.

Pairing acidic foods with acid-neutralising foods such as chicken or lean beef reduces the impact but, as with sugars, entirely removing acidic foods from a diet is not possible. We are going to need a strategy beyond simply bowdlerising problematic items.

Oh, coffee is also acidic. That’s the second mention of coffee. It won’t be the last.

Why an all-round approach is required

Avoiding foods is not the answer.

Having set out to look at which foods are best avoided in order to maintain healthy gums and to reduce the risk of associated problems, we have just served to paint a picture of how difficult it is to avoid these foods.

Many foods have the potential to be problematic. Bacteria are not hugely fussy and will feed on the scraps left over. A typical day is likely to be full of foods that would be on a list of those things to be avoided. In short, avoiding all the foods that we could list is impractical – we certainly don’t avoid them all.

Gingivitis and Periodontitis

In the longer term, bleeding gums and gingivitis can lead to a more serious condition called periodontitis if left unchecked.

Periodontitis is far more destructive, eating away at the bone and gum, the potential results of which are obvious, teeth becoming loose, with the eventual risk of tooth loss.

We have already mentioned how the majority of adults have some degree of gum disease, three statistics relating to periodontitis stand out.

  • The most recent national dental health survey found 54% of adults had moderate signs of the condition.
  • A 2009 survey found that 37% of the adult population suffers from moderate to chronic levels of periodontitis. Globally, severe periodontitis has been found to affect 11% of the adult population.
  • Periodontitis is the sixth most prevalent disease in the world, it has been significantly linked to negatively impacting general well-being and longevity.

Periodontitis can often be present for decades without diagnosis and treatment, that can be because the symptoms will initially feel the same as with more mundane gum issues – inflammation and bleeding gums. However, longer-term, it is causing far greater damage and needs treatment by a periodontist in London.

Given gingivitis is easy to treat and periodontitis so destructive, it really is in your interest to arrange an appointment.

If you would like to see a hygienist or periodontist in the City of London for more information about your gum health, please contact us.

Right, we’ve kept you long enough – go and have a drink, just make sure it isn’t an energy drink. Or soda. Or Coke. Or alcohol. Or coffee.

Do you have a specific question?

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