You’ve likely heard that keeping your gums healthy is an easy way to protect your heart and cut your odds of heart attack or stroke by 67 percent. But now there’s another reason to take good care of this part of your body: New research out of Canada’s McGill University reveals that folks with healthy gums had an 88 percent lower risk of developing severe COVID complications. Here are five easy ways to keep yours in tip-top shape!
Savor this sweet-tart sip.
Though probably best known for its role in warding off pesky UTIs, cranberry juice offers a surprising benefit: It keeps your gums healthy too. A new University of Illinois study revealed that regularly sipping cranberry juice (yes, even the sweetened variety works!) reduces the oral bacteria that cause decay and gum disease by as much as 90 percent. Researchers credit the fruit’s polyphenols, which act as antibacterial compounds.
Power up your brushing.
Opting for a powered toothbrush boosts dental health, a study in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dentistry found. Scientists say the oscillating bristles remove more than twice as much gum-damaging plaque from teeth as manual brushes. One to try: Oral-B iO Series 9 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush (Buy from Oral B, $299). (And check out our guide to the best electric toothbrushes for receding gums, as well!)
‘Sweep’ your tongue.
Your tongue’s rough texture makes it easy for the bacteria that cause gum disease to sneak into nooks and crannies. Luckily, research in The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice found sweeping a tongue scraper over its surface twice daily after brushing reduces bacteria levels by up to 98 percent. One to try: Dr. Tung’s Tongue Cleaner (Buy from Walmart, $14 for a 2-pack)
Try a lemony swish.
An Indian study found using an antibacterial lemongrass mouth rinse twice daily (post-brushing) for two weeks proved 83 percent more effective at improving gum health than a prescription rinse. Just add one drop of lemongrass essential oil to four ounces of water, swish for one minute, and spit. One to try: Now Foods Lemongrass Essential Oil (Buy from iHerb, $12 for 4 oz.)
Kick up your heels.
Whether you’re dancing along with the stars on TV in your living room or visiting a farmers market, getting 30 minutes of exercise five times a week lowers gum disease risk by up to 74 percent. So say Case Western Reserve scientists, who found that moderate physical activity combats the inflammation that makes gums vulnerable.
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This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.