When it comes to dental health, taking care of your fleshy, pink gums is every bit as important as brushing your pearly whites. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an inflammation of the tissue surrounding and supporting the teeth. Certain dietary choices put you at risk for periodontal disease, which left untreated can lead to tooth loss.
Not a Mona Lisa Smile
Your mouth is inhabited by bacteria -- some harmless and some damaging. The bad type of bacteria adhere to your teeth in a sticky mass called plaque. As plaque accumulates, it irritates the soft gum tissue causing the swelling, redness and inflammation associated with periodontal disease.
Bad bacteria thrive in acidic environments with plenty of sugar available for food. Coffee is a highly acidic beverage that contains tannins -- chemicals that erode the protective coating on your teeth called enamel. If you stir sugar and cream into your cup of joe, you're giving the microbes just what they need to build a sticky plaque and irritate your gums. To prevent periodontal disease, drink your coffee black and brush your teeth immediately after you finish the mug.
- ColorBlind Images/Blend Images/Getty Images