Health

5 Simple Ways to Protect Your Teeth and Gums as You Age

Taking care of your teeth and gums helps keep your heart healthy, and Swedish researchers say it can also protect against arthritis and cut cancer risk 50 percent. How? Healthy teeth and gums are resistant to bacterial buildup, so those troublemakers are less likely to enter your bloodstream and spread through your body. Besides brushing and flossing daily, experts advise these lifestyle tweaks.

Get more sunshine.

This just in from Norwegian researchers: Soaking up 10 minutes of sunshine each day could cut your risk of gum disease 50 percent, enough to reduce your cancer risk 36 percent. When your body is exposed to UV
light, it manufactures vitamin D, a nutrient that strengthens
gum tissues, so mouth bacteria can’t spread, weakening immunity and allowing cancer cells to grow, says Boston University researcher Michael
Holick, M.D. Taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily also does the trick.

Eat pineapple.

Eating one cup of fresh or frozen pineapple each day can help keep cavities away — and ease gum sensitivity and bleeding in as little as one month, the Journal of International Oral Health reports. More benefits include
less joint stiffness, swelling and pain in as little as three weeks.

Pineapple is nature’s only source of bromelain, a nutrient that reduces inflammation in your mouth so it can’t spread to joint tissues, explains study co-author Manish Madan, M.D.S. Tip: Canning destroys bromelain, so opt for fresh or frozen pineapple.

Use a toothpaste with CoQ10.

Brushing twice a day with a toothpaste containing the nutrient coenzyme Q10 — plus supplementing with 100 mg. of CoQ10 daily — tames gum inflammation, swelling, and pain for seven in 10 of us in eight weeks, plus doubles your immune system’s ability to destroy viruses and bacteria,
say Case Western Reserve University researchers. CoQ10 signals your body to repair and strengthen gum tissues, and when your mouth is healthy,
your immune cells can focus on destroying invading germs instead.

One option: Jason Natural Tooth Gel Powersmile: $4.11, Amazon.

Cook with coconut oil.

This plant fat contains gentle but highly effective germ-killing acids that destroy strep bacteria. And that’s important because those germs kick-start
damaging plaque buildup, plus encourage plaque formation in your arteries, an Irish study shows. Using two tablespoons of coconut oil daily in place of oil, butter or other fats could cut your risk of dental troubles — and clogged arteries — 33 percent, Vanderbilt University researchers say.

Have some licorice.

If you are prone to plaque buildup, try eating three pieces of real licorice candy (such as Panda, Darrell Lea, or Kookaburra) daily. Licorice root is an antibacterial herb that destroys plaque-causing germs on contact, Swedish studies show. Tip: Brush afterward, so the sugar doesn’t cause trouble.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine, Reverse Aging.

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