Fighting Dental Inflammation with Food
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet may help fight gum disease as well as other health issues.
You may already know that poor oral health, and specifically gum disease, has been linked to a variety of serious health problems including heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. But did you know that according to the American Academy of Periodontology, recent research is now suggesting that the link is forged by inflammation? This has led some nutritional experts to postulate that by consuming foods that help fight inflammation, we can improve our oral health and our overall health.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection or trauma. In most cases, this natural immune response helps speed healing. But when the immune response gets out of control, healthy tissue can become damaged.
Periodontal Disease is an Inflammatory Disease
In the case of periodontal disease (aka gum disease or gingivitis), the immune response is triggered by harmful bacteria at and beneath the gum line. This causes the gums to become inflamed, and they swell and become sensitive and red. You may notice bleeding when you brush or floss during the early stages of gum disease. If you don’t address the problem, the disease may persist until eventually the gums begin to recede from the teeth, supporting tissues are destroyed, and you end up losing your teeth. Fortunately, gum disease is typically easy to treat. Some individuals may be able to treat it at home just by improving their oral hygiene, while others may need to visit the dentist for a special deep cleaning procedure.
The Link Between Inflammation and Diet
According to nutritional experts, a combination of stress, inactivity, and a diet heavy in chemicals, additives, and unhealthy fats can lead to chronic low-level inflammation. Here are a few tips for adjusting your diet to be more anti-inflammatory.
- Eat more fruits and veggies: In addition to being packed with vitamins and minerals, many fresh fruits and vegetables contain healthy anti-oxidants that can help fight off damage to the body.
- Avoid refined white flour: High-glycemic foods such as white bread and other foods made with refined white flour have been shown to increase inflammation. Switch to whole grain products.
- Drink tea: Green, black, and white teas are all good sources of anti-oxidants.
- Cook with spices: Ginger and turmeric both have anti-inflammatory properties similar to those found in drugs like hydrocortisone and Motrin.
Of course, no diet is a substitute for proper oral care! Remember to brush and floss regularly and visit the dentist for professional cleanings and exams to keep gum tissue healthy.