There’s a saying that goes “we are what we eat”, and although it may be cliché, this phrase holds so much truth to it. What you eat affects your overall health and your oral health is no exception. In Singapore, gum infection treatment is one of the top reasons why patients visit their dentist’s clinic. While there are some foods that have known damaging effects to the teeth and cause gum infection, you might be surprised that there are foods that can actually help you achieve healthier teeth and their surrounding soft tissues and structures.
Before jumping into the food and nutrition train, Dr Marlene Teo, one of the leading gum specialists in Singapore and director of An Dental, believes that it is first best to understand what causes gum infection and what gum infection treatment options are available for you. Read on to know how to combat gum infection and keep your smile healthy for a lifetime.
What causes gum infection?
When you take a bite into foods (especially foods that have high sugar and carbohydrate content), they can sneak into crevices between teeth. The bacteria in your mouth feed into these foods and when people do not brush and clean their teeth properly and regularly, plaque from bacteria and food debris start to build up. When the accumulation of plaque mineralizes, it becomes tartar or calculus. Because of these culprits, in a few days, gums start to get inflamed as part of the body’s immune response.
You might not know it yet but the inflammation gradually spreads in just a matter of a few weeks. Gum infection will creep up on you and take you by surprise as you begin to notice that your gums start to swell, become darker and bleed easily, especially when brushing.
What are the different types of gum infection treatments?
When not given proper medical attention and gum infection treatment, the constant inflammation can lead to periodontitis, an inflammatory disease of the gums and other supporting tissues surrounding the teeth. Severe forms of periodontitis can lead to gum recession and the progressive degradation of the bone that holds the teeth in place—setting up for tooth loss.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
For mild forms of gum infection, these simple chair-side procedures can be enough to manage the condition:
- Thorough in-office dental cleaning
- Scaling and Root Planing (dental techniques to effectively remove plaque and tartar)
- Antibiotics to kill existing pathogens in the teeth and gum surface
Surgical Treatment Options
For more advanced forms of gum infection, a surgical procedure may be required to treat the receding gums and the degrading bone structure that holds the teeth together. In Singapore, gum specialists like Dr Marlene Teo are well-trained to perform surgical procedures as a form of gum infection treatment in Singapore:
- Gum and bone grafting (replacement of damaged tissues and underlying bone structure)
- Flap surgery that reduces the depth of dental pockets caused by plaque and tartar
- Regenerative dentistry (gum and bone tissue regeneration treatments to reverse the damage)
What foods should be eaten to promote gum health after a gum infection treatment?
It is a known fact that practising a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of developing medical conditions and diseases. This is why, as a top recommendation from Dr Marlene Teo, here’s a run-down of foods to eat more often to promote healthier gums after a gum infection treatment:
Fruits and dark leafy greens
Substitute sugar, starch and acid that feeds with foods that promote good oral health like fruits and vegetables. These foods are lower in sugar and higher in water and fibre that acts as a natural toothbrush and helps reduce the effects of sugar on your teeth. Dark leafy greens also contain calcium and folic acid which promote strong teeth, bones and gums. In the long run, constant consumption of these healthy foods can significantly lower your chance of gum infection.
Citrus fruits and unsweetened natural fruit juices help strengthen your teeth and gums. In fact, there is an association between dietary vitamin C intake with gum infection. Research shows that lower levels of vitamin C intake are associated with an increasing risk of developing gum infections. Eating citrus fruits like oranges increases saliva production that not only breaks down food but also balances the pH levels in the mouth and protects the teeth and gums from oral pathogens. Make oranges part of your diet to have more saliva and eventually have healthier teeth and gums.
Part of the development of gum infection may involve oxidative stress, so not only do we need to reduce our intake of pro-inflammatory foods sugars and carbs, but it also helps if we make it a mission to eat foods that are rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory properties. Increased consumption of tomatoes (lycopene), green tea, whole grains, berries and other anti-oxidant rich foods result to significant improvements in reducing plaque and bleeding.
Dairy products are good for your teeth. Not only they contain calcium but they also have vitamin B12 that help strengthen your gums. In addition, milk is also fortified with vitamin D which helps your body absorb the calcium better. However, be wary of flavoured dairy products as they may contain a lot of added sugar that can cause more harm than good.
Good nutrition makes a huge difference when it comes to your own health, and it can be achieved by eating a balanced diet and making smart choices on every food group. As you plan your meals, follow the helpful tips by Dr Marlene Teo and pick foods that are beneficial for your oral health. Load your meals with fruits and vegetables, whole foods and dairy products and say no to sugars and carbohydrates and processed foods. When dealing with gum infection treatment, a combination of intake of healthy foods and sugar intake restriction is the key to augment the healing process of inflamed gum tissues and most importantly, prevent your gums to get inflamed again.
Dr Marlene Teo
360 Orchard Rd, #03-06/07 next to Lido,
International Building, Singapore 238869
+65 8588 9868