Want a healthier smile? Then don’t forget your gums. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and is linked to heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. The good news: In addition to regular brushing and flossing, new research shows that eating certain foods will get your gums into tip-top shape. Add these smile-savers to your menu:
Smile Saver 1: Salmon
This flavorful fish contains lots of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce gum inflammation. A recent study found that people who consumed the most omega-3 fatty acids slashed their risk of gum disease by 22 percent.
Smile Saver 2: Strawberries
These berries are full of vitamin C, which builds collagen, an important component of healthy gum tissue. Research shows that consuming fewer than 60 mg of C (the amount in six large strawberries) each day significantly boosts your chance of getting gum disease. But stay away from vitamin C lozenges that contain cavity-causing sugar, and fizzy vitamin drinks, which can erode enamel.
Smile Saver 3: 100 percent Whole Grain Bread
Eating three servings of whole grains each day reduces the risk of serious gum disease by 23 percent, according to a Canadian study, probably because they contain B vitamins and iron, both of which are essential to gum health. Oatmeal, barley and brown rice will work too.
Smile Saver 4: Green Tea
Hot or iced, green tea contains antioxidants that kill the germs that cause gum infections, so it’s no wonder a large Japanese study found that every cup reduces your rate of bleeding gums and inflammation. Bonus: Green tea also helps kill the bacteria that causes bad breath.
Smile Saver 5: Pistachios
These nuts boast a big dose of CoQ10, a powerful antioxidant that has been proven to effectively fight gum inflammation. If you already have periodontal problems, you could have a CoQ10 deficiency. Ask your dentist or doctor if you could benefit from a supplement.