Changing your diet is the key to preventing gum disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is probably one of the most common infectious diseases, as about 3.9 billion people around the world suffer from it. Aside from tooth decay issues, this disease is also associated with a greater risk of various health problems, such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and dementia. The good news, which people tend to ignore, is that it can be prevented and reversed by changing diet and lifestyle habits.

Periodontist and expert on gum disease Alvin Danenberg revealed in NaturalHealth365 Talk Hour, a weekly health show of the website, how healthy dietary and lifestyle changes can ward off gum disease. He revealed that gum disease is on the rise because of poor nutrition, toxicity, and chronic inflammation triggered by poor oral health. The signs and symptoms of gum disease include the following:

  • Foul breath that won’t go away
  • Loose teeth
  • Painful chewing
  • Receding gums or longer appearing teeth
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Tender or bleeding gums

According to Danenberg, before humans became farmers from being hunter-gatherers, tooth decay was almost unheard of. But as humans ate a carbohydrate-rich diet, together with the rise of industrially processed flour and sugar, the incidence of tooth decay and gum diseases soared. As more people ate domesticated cereals, significant increases in dental plaque occurred as well. In addition, “sugar-free” concentrates, juices, sodas, and syrups produced acids that lead to tooth decay. (Related: How gum disease affects your overall health: Bacteria from your mouth enters your blood, then contributes to diseases such as cancer.)

To fight gum disease, Danenberg firmly suggested ancestral nutrition. This practice involves eating unrefined, unprocessed, whole, natural foods, which are naturally packed with nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties — two important factors in terms of supporting oral health.

In addition, Danenberg suggested avoiding using antibacterial mouthwashes. Contrary to popular belief, dental plaque, particularly healthy dental plaque is not always bad for oral health, according to Danenberg. He said that healthy dental plaque fights against bacteria that cause diseases. It also remineralizes teeth and aids in regulating acid levels.

He added that bacteria in the mouth should not be killed, but “fed” to promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms. This is because bacteria in the mouth produce hydrogen peroxide that balances out the good and bad bacteria in the mouth. However, this balance in mouth bacteria is often disrupted because of poor food choices, causing inflammation that leads to tooth decay and gum disease.

Therefore, Danenberg suggested to eat the right amounts of prebiotic foods and avoid processed sugars. This will not only promote the growth of good bacteria in the mouth but also reduce the growth of harmful bacteria. Some of the best prebiotic foods you should eat include the following:

  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Barley
  • Burdock root
  • Chicory root
  • Cocoa
  • Dandelion greens
  • Flaxseeds
  • Garlic
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Jicama root
  • Konjac root, also known as elephant yam
  • Leeks
  • Oats
  • Onions
  • Seaweed
  • Wheat bran
  • Yacon root

Consuming prebiotic foods also increases the number of good bacteria in the gut, helps treat digestive problems, and enhances the immune system.

Other helpful tips to prevent gum disease

In addition to Danenberg’s recommendations, you can keep your gums and teeth healthy by doing the following:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day
  • Flossing regularly to remove harmful plaque from between teeth
  • Getting a regular dental check-up and professional cleaning
  • Not smoking

Read more news stories and studies on keeping your gums and teeth healthy by going to

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