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The Medicare Diet: Best Foods to Eat for Gum Disease in Seniors


Posted on June 9, 2023 by Austin Lang

Best Foods to Eat for Gum Disease: Tooth and Fiction

You may already think you know the best foods for gum disease: cut back on sugar and soda, drink plenty of water, and maybe chew some sugar-free chewing gum. You might even be a master of oral hygiene: brushing after every meal, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash. Yet despite everything, those gums still bleed. Why?

Let us tell you a secret: oral health is about more than just brushing and flossing. Yes, those things are very important, as are regular dental checkups, but your diet plays an even bigger role in maintaining healthy gums. You see, while tooth decay, which results from bacteria and acids wearing away a tooth’s protective enamel, gets a ton of press due to its dramatic presentation, periodontal disease is much more insidious than tooth decay itself.

The Naked Gums

Infected and swollen gums.

Gum disease, AKA periodontal disease, is an inflammatory condition that occurs when the tissues surrounding the teeth are infected by bacteria. This causes the gums to swell, bleed, and eventually pull away from the tooth. Eventually, the bony support for teeth starts to fail, leading to tooth loss.

The sneaky thing about periodontal disease is that many of the early symptoms are overlooked or ignored. These include things like:

  • Redness and bleeding of the gums
  • Recurrent gum swelling
  • Spitting blood after brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath
  • Metallic taste in the mouth

The first stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis, which occurs when bacteria accumulate in the crevices between teeth. The gums become red and shiny and begin to swell, bleeding with even gentle brushing. You might also detect a foul odor. Eventually, gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, where the gums begin to recede. Periodontitis in seniors is the leading cause of tooth loss, and studies have found that gingivitis bacteria can cause Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice. 

Gum disease can be prevented with proper dental hygiene, including regular brushing, flossing, and using a gentle mouthwash. However, as this is the Medicare Diet, we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about how your diet can help. 

Some Ideas to Chew On

Raw Cacao powder in a bowl.

Let’s get one thing clear: all food, not just sugar and starch, can lead to gum disease. It’s not anything new: there’s evidence that our most ancient ancestors dealt with gum disease. There are plenty of reasons to avoid sugar and starch, of course, but this edition of the Medicare Diet isn’t about what you can’t eat, but what you should. 

One major component of this diet is protein, which is often overlooked in oral health. It’s important to remember that periodontal disease is essentially an injury, and injuries require materials to heal. Collagen in particular is important, as inflammation of the gums causes collagen degradation and eventual tooth loss. You can find collagen in bone broth, berries, broccoli, and non-vegetarian gelatin.

Because gum disease is inflammatory to the gum tissue, anti-inflammatory agents are useful in easing symptoms. These include things like probiotic (found in yogurt), beta carotene (found in carrots and bell peppers), Omega-3s (found in fatty fish like salmon), and catechins (found in black and and green tea and legumes). Vitamin C is also useful for bolstering the immune system, though only in conjunction with other dietary treatments. Vitamin C alone does not a gum disease prevention plan make!

One food on this list that might surprise you is cacao, also known as raw chocolate. Cacao in its pure form is actually better for your teeth than fluoride, but the process of turning it into chocolate removes most of these beneficial properties. If you want to munch on chocolate for your teeth, look for a bar of 70 percent raw cacao, which can often be found at organic food stores. Just remember to consume it in moderation, and remember to brush!

If you prefer making your own treats, try this recipe on for size.

Vegan Raw Cacao Bites


2 Tbsp. Raw Cacao Powder

1 cup nuts (Walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, or peanuts work well)

1 cup Medjool Dates (chopped)


  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender. You may want to blend the nuts first if they’re particularly large.
  2. On a sheet of parchment paper, scoop out the mixture and roll into small balls. Refrigerate.


Consider replacing a portion of the dates with old-fashioned oats for a more traditional texture. 

Adding a small amount of cinnamon and turmeric can add additional anti-inflammatory power to this treat.

For optimal gum guarding power, serve with unsweetened green tea.

If you’re looking to protect your gum health, Medicare Advantage can help. Plans offering dental coverage, grocery benefits, and more may be available in your area! To start your search, enter your zip code, or call a licensed agent at (800) 950-0608.

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