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Diet Has Effect on Periodontal Disease : Some Tips for Keeping Gums Healthy

April 16, 1987

Bad gums, responsible for more than 70% of all tooth loss, are not just inherited.

There are tips to keeping gums healthy and strong, one of which is eating the right foods, according to the California Dental Assn.

"Periodontal disease, the end result of bad gums, may be detected and treated before any permanent damage occurs, such as tooth loss," said Norman Sperber DDS, chairman of groups's Council on Dental Health.

Some of the warning signs of periodontal disease are swollen red gums, gums that bleed when brushed, tender gums, bad breath and loose teeth.

Contributory Factors

There are several contributing factors to periodontal disease, including poor oral hygiene, physical stress, hormonal changes, heredity, tobacco use and diet.

"A poor diet lacking in some nutrients may contribute to the inflammatory nature of periodontal disease," Sperber said. "But a balanced diet, one consisting of a variety of foods from the four food groups, will promote good health in general, including good dental health."

According to Sperber, the four nutrient-based food groups are dairy, meat, vegetables and fruits and breads and cereals.

The dental association recommends two daily dairy servings for men and three daily servings for women. One dairy serving equals an eight-ounce glass of milk, 1 1/2 ounces of cheese or an eight-ounce carton of yogurt.

Both men and women should have two daily three-ounce servings from the meat group, including lean beef, fish and poultry, and four each from the vegetables/fruits and breads/cereals groups.

One vegetables/fruits serving is one piece of fruit or one-half cup of cut vegetables. One breads/cereals serving equals one slice of bread, one-half of an English muffin, hamburger or hot dog bun or one-half cup of cooked pasta or rice.

In addition to eating well, the group recommends brushing and flossing daily and visiting the dentist regularly.

"By eating a balanced diet and limiting intake of such extra foods as candy, cake, cookies, soft drinks and other between-meal snacks, you can feel good that you're eating the right foods to keep your teeth and gums at their healthiest," Sperber said.

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