What is Gingivitis?

You may have heard of this disorder of the gums under a variety of other names, such as trench mouth (also called Vincent's infection) and periodontal disease. These two gum disorders differ in several ways.

GingivitisTrench mouth occurs in young people under stress, traditionallycropping up at examination time in high school or college, but also brought on by severe chronic illnesses, and now often seen in young people suffering from AIDS. The combination of two forms of bacteria (a rod-shaped one and a spiral one) working as a team bring about a severe infection of the gums that neither bacteria alone cause, with the sudden onset of painful swollen ulcers that may bleed, bad breath, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. Although the cause of the disorder is infectious and not nutritional, and the cure usually requires antibiotic medications, poor nutrition may set the stage to predispose a person to developing the problem and proper nutrition can help to prevent it.

Periodontal disease or periodontitis is a chronic infection of the gums that causes—over a period of years—the gums to draw away from the teeth, exposing the tooth root and allowing entry of the bacteria into the deeper tissues. Once again, the cause is bacterial, and the cure very often requires surgery to scrape away diseased gum tissue and may even lead finally to extraction of all teeth and replacement with dentures. Poor nutrition sets the stage, and the proper intake of nutrients can offer some protection. Let's see how in Gingivitis Diet.

What makes Gingivitis worse?

• Excess dietary phosphorus, found in meat, soft drinks, grains, and potatoes, may promote bone loss by interfering with calcium balance. In theory, the higher your phosphorus intake, the greater your tendency to leech calcium out of bones, which could weaken the bony foundation beneath your gums. Recommendation: If you suffer from chronic periodontal disease, you should limit your intake of meat by seeking protein from other sources, such as fish, seafood, poultry, egg white, and dairy products. Sharply reduce your intake of potatoes and grains, relying on whole fruits and other vegetables for your carbohydrate and fiber sources. And try not to drink carbonated soft drinks, diet or otherwise.

• Sugar intake hastens the development of gingivitis by directly inflaming the gum tissues, by promoting plaque formation on the teeth, and by hampering the action of body chemicals that call immune defense fighters to the area once infection begins. Although important, sugar avoidance alone does not protect you against developing chronic periodontal disease in the face of poor dental hygiene. Recommendation: Sharply reduce your intake of sugar and all foods containing sugar, corn syrup, molasses, or high-fructose corn syrup. With the connection between sugar and phosphorus as promoters of gum disease, it's easy to see why regular carbonated soft drinks, which the young people of this country drink by the tanker-truck full, are a bad dietary bargain.

• Mercury in silver/mercury amalgam fillings can leech out and cause toxicity, including gingivitis, bleeding gums, and a metallic taste in the mouth. Recommendation: See your dentist to have fillings checked and remove and replace any silver/mercury fillings.

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