Gum disease is a very common problem that should be addressed early, before it leads to any tooth loss. There are many ways to fight and prevent gum disease and, surprisingly, raisins are one of them.
There are several stages of gum disease but the most important ones are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is an early stage, when the damage can still be prevented fairly easily, while periodontitis is a more advanced and more serious condition.
As for the symptoms of gum disease, the most prominent signs are red, swollen gums that bleed easily, especially when brushing. Other symptoms include bad breath, loose teeth, tooth sensitivity and pain, changes of the bite and spaces forming between the teeth.
Gum disease is caused by the build-up of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky substance that consists of saliva and bacterial debris. If caught early on, plaque can be removed with a toothbrush and dental floss, but if it is left on the teeth, it can progress and develop into tartar, which cannot be removed at home and requires an intervention by a dental professional.
In periodontitis, the inflammation of the gums progresses and spreads to the tissues that connect the tooth to the socket and to the bone that contains the socket. It creates gaps that loosen the tooth, which increases the risk of tooth loss.
Prevention of gum disease with raisins
Even though they are sticky and sweet, raisins can actually improve dental health, at least when it comes to gums. Researchers of the University of Illinois have found that certain compounds in raisins work against the bacteria that are responsible for the formation of plaque.
For example, oleanolic acid in raisins inhibits the growth of Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas gingivalis, which directly reduces the risk of plaque, and therefore of gum disease.
In addition, oleanolic acid prevents the bacteria from sticking to the teeth, which they need to do in order to form plaque.
Another food that can prevent gingivitis are cranberries. They have a similar effect as raisins as they prevent the bacteria from sticking to the teeth. Today, cranberry extract is listed as an active ingredient in many products like toothpastes and mouthwashes, and drinking plain cranberry juice is also recommended by many dentists.
Both raisins and cranberries are highly recommended not only for prevention of gum disease but for other health issues too, which is why everyone should eat at least a handful of them per day.