Expert recommends surprising food to help maintain oral health – ‘Can help bleeding gums’


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The 22nd of September is the first day of autumn and one which marks the beginning of the descent into winter and the colder temperatures beyond.  As the mercury begins to drop, many will begin to cook winter warmers such as soups and stews to stave off the cold weather winter brings with it. One of these winter warmers, says Dr Khaled Kasem, could help improve oral health and even treat one of the main symptoms of gum disease, bleeding gums.

The food in question is pumpkin soup, a dish made up of a vegetable most associated with Halloween or Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie. However, this liquid dish could help improve oral health.

The reason for its oral efficacity is because, says Dr Kasem, the vegetable “has many benefits on your mouth, not only does the Vitamin C help to fight off infections, but the levels of magnesium and calcium can help to strengthen enamel”.

Dr Kasem added that oral health was where pumpkins were most efficacious: “Perhaps the best benefit of them all though is that pumpkin contains high levels of zinc, which can help to heal wounds found in the mouth (such as damaged tissue and bleeding gums)”

The body needs zinc for a range of reasons including helping to process carbohydrates, fat, and protein in food as well as making new cells and enzymes in the body.

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While pumpkin soup could help improve oral health, Dr Kasem said it could cause harm if it is taken incorrectly: “Just remember to let your winter warming soup cool down before tucking in, as if it’s cold outside and you’re consuming something that’s too hot, the shock temperature can cause cracks in your enamel, which leads to increased sensitivity and pain if not properly managed.”

Alongside recommending which autumnal foods can help improve health, Dr Kasem said there were also some which should definitely be avoided. This included warm beverages: “If you’re heading out to a bonfire or getting geared up for the Christmas markets, warm alcoholic drinks such as Irish coffee and mulled wine are a popular choice – just watch out for how much you’re drinking.

“Not only do these drinks cause tooth staining, but they also dehydrate your mouth. The alcohol in these drinks will reduce the amount of saliva your mouth is producing, which is essential for rinsing out the harmful bacteria that often sticks to your teeth – a reduced amount of saliva over time can lead to tooth decay and other infections, so, again, make these drinks a treat rather than a regular comfort!”

Furthermore, Dr Kasem also had some Halloween-specific health-related tips to abide by to maximise joy but minimise damage from the annual night of fright.


The orthodontist wrote: “Sour sweets contain different types of acid that are much tougher on your teeth than regular sweets, so avoid these if possible. Plus, because they’re chewy they often get stuck in your teeth, which leads to tooth decay in the long-term.

“Now that summer is over, it’s no surprise we like to find comfort in a tasty treat – but that’s what they should be – a treat. As long as you ensure to drink plenty of water and brush/floss regularly, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy some of your fall favourites!”

Meanwhile, a recent study from 2021, found that oral health could be linked to cardiovascular health.

The study, published in early 2020 before the start of the pandemic, was published by the American Heart Association (AHA) and assessed how gum disease may be linked to the risk of stroke.

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Overall, those with the most common form of gum disease, gingivitis, were twice as likely to have moderately severe narrowed brain arteries due to plaque build-up compared to those without gum disease.

Overall, those with the condition were nearly two and a half times more likely to have high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Sen added: “It’s important for clinicians to recognize that gum disease is an important source of inflammation for their patients and to work with patients to address gum disease.

“We are working on a current study to evaluate if treatment of gum disease can reduce its association with stroke.”


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