Foods for Gum Health

Elderly couple drinking green smoothies in their kitchen smiling.

Oral health problems increase with age (1). Older adults experience many chronic diseases and other conditions that can impact oral health and hygiene. 

Oral issues can lead to their own negative consequences, especially in the elderly. 

Keeping gums healthy can help maintain nutrition and improve quality of life. Let’s learn about foods for gum health. 

Why is Gum Health Important?

The condition of the mouth can have a significant impact on appetite in older adults. Poor oral hygiene is associated with malnutrition (2)

The gums protect the teeth and without this immunity people are at increased risk of periodontitis (3). This can lead to its own complications. 

Poor oral hygiene can contribute to (4), (5):

  • Pneumonia
  • Arteriosclerosis (blood vessel damage)
  • Infections 
  • Malnutrition
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Limited food selection 
  • Frailty
  • Sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass and strength)
  • Gingivitis (gum inflammation)
  • Periodontitis 

All the negative impacts of poor gum health ultimately leads to decreased quality of life. 

Who’s at Risk?

While we are all at greater risk for poor gum health as we age, there are some that have a higher risk than others. 

Some conditions increasing risk include:

  • Stroke
  • Dental plaque 
  • Being institutionalized
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia) 
  • Polypharmacy 
  • Cognitive impairment

Foods for Gum Health

Many foods can help promote healthy gums. Eat foods containing vitamin A, C, D, B vitamins, and calcium. 

List of foods for gum health.

Fruits and Vegetables

Diets low in fruits and vegetables can increase inflammation of the gums (6)

They are also high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and polyphenols (beneficial plant compounds), which can support healthy gums.


Iron deficiency can cause the gums to decrease in size (7)

Foods with iron include: 

  • Beef
  • Oatmeal
  • Spinach
  • Lentils
  • Tofu
  • Cashews


Niacin (vitamin B3) deficiency can lead to gingivitis. 

Try these Niacin containing foods: 

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Salmon
  • Brown rice
  • Peanuts


Poor nutrition is both a cause and result of poor oral health (8). Amino acids (the building blocks of protein) can reduce the risk of gingivitis (9)

Protein foods include: 

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Pork 
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Peanut butter 
  • Milk
  • Tofu

Vitamin A

  • Sweet potato
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Beef liver
  • Whole milk

Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps maintain tissue integrity, including the gums. 

Foods containing vitamin C include: 

  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes 
  • Guava
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kale
  • Kiwi
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts  

Vitamin D

Low vitamin D levels increase the risk of gum disease (10). It is also associated with bleeding gums (11)

Increase vitamin D intake by consuming:

  • Fortified orange juice
  • Fortified milk
  • Fish
  • Egg yolk


Consume enough calcium to help support the jaw bone. 

Calcium containing foods include: 

  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Cheese
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Some tofu 
  • Chia seeds

Omega 3

Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids can help reduce gum inflammation (12). Consume fatty fish to incorporate more omega 3. 

List of Nutrients for Health Gums on green background: iron, niacin, protein, vitamin A, C, D, calcium, Omega 3.

Practical Takeaways

It is important for the elderly to maintain their oral health to avoid malnutrition and poor quality of life. 

Consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and dairy products can all support healthy gums. 

Foods for gum health in graphics: cashews, strawberries, broccoli, kale, turkey, egg, chia seeds, citrus, peppers, tomatoes, sweet potato, carrots, whole milk, peanut butter, cantaloupe, yogurt, cheese, chicken, oatmeal, beef, brown rice, spinach, salmon, peanuts, tofu, lentils.

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