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Dental Care for Overall Health

Be true to your teeth, and they won't be false

Dental health is far more than just pearly whites—healthy gums hold those pearls in place. Periodontitis, or periodontal disease, causes loss of teeth and other health problems.

It starts with gingivitis. This early stage of gum disease makes gums puffy and red, and may cause bleeding, bad breath, and loose teeth. Many people think of it as an adult problem, but gingivitis is common in children, who may not brush thoroughly, and teens, whose busy lifestyles interfere with regular brushing. 

Gingivitis is easily treated with daily flossing and brushing along with regular professional cleanings. Left untreated, more advanced forms of periodontal disease develop, with serious health implications, finds Tom McGuire, DDS, founder of the Dental Wellness Institute.

Cardiovascular disease 

Older adults with high levels of "bad" bacteria in the mouth also tend to have thicker carotid arteries, implicated in stroke and heart attack. Diabetes raises a person’s risk for gum disease, and conversely, gum disease seems to worsen diabetes.

Preterm and low-weight births

Moms with periodontal disease are more likely to deliver premature and underweight babies than women with healthy gums.

Rheumatoid arthritis

People with this disease are more likely to have gum disease than healthy subjects, researchers say.

Oral health, naturally

Practice good oral hygiene and eat a plant-based diet. Drink plenty of water and eat whole foods, including fresh fruits and raw vegetables that give your teeth and gums a workout.

If bad breath is a concern, try unsweetened yogurt. A small Japanese study found that it reduces compounds that cause bad breath and reduces plaque.

For snacks, eat raw veggies, cheese, or fruit as opposed to processed starchy or sugary snacks that leave acids that attack tooth enamel for up to 20 minutes. 

Tartar sits on the gum line, creating pockets where bacteria thrive. Under the tooth, these pockets lead to inflammation, infection, tooth loss, and eventual destruction of the bone and connective tissue.

Regular professional cleanings and daily floss-and-brush routines prevent gingivitis.

Avoid tobacco, and if you still smoke, stop. It increases your risk for periodontal disease, as well as oral cancers and fungal infections.

 

Specific Supplements

The following support healthy teeth and gums:

  • Vitamin C fights infection and strengthens collagen, a protein consisting of bundles of tiny fibers that form connective tissue in the gums.
  • Calcium and magnesium fortify the jawbone.
  • Flavonoids in green tea, apples, and onions fight inflammation.
  • Echinacea promotes antibacterial activity, boosts the immune system, and protects collagen that helps connect teeth to gums.
  • Aloe vera, as a food-grade gel, can be applied topically for oral wounds and also may build collagen.
  • Tea tree oil is an antiseptic often found in topical products for diseases of the gums.
  • Folic acid, vitamins A and E, zinc, and selenium are also useful.
  • A multivitamin/mineral supplement along with a healthy diet, exercise, and regular dental care will help keep your smile bright and your breath sweet.

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