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Do Spicy Peppers Harm Your Oral Health?

Posted on 12/10/2016 by Zac Bird
A spicy pepper on a fork.
Do you like things hot? Are Mexican and Indian dishes more your speed? While not for everyone, hot peppers are a delicious, enjoyable addition to just about any dish.

Hot peppers do have some benefits, but they can also do some harm to your oral health if you're not careful.


Hot peppers contain a component known as capsaicin. The level varies from pepper to pepper, ranging from nonexistent in bell peppers to almost intolerable levels in ghost and Carolina reaper peppers. Capsaicin is an irritant, and can burn sensitive tissues, especially the eyes, nose and mouth. Some peppers have such high levels that they can burn the skin of your hands if you are not careful when handling them.

While capsaicin sounds like a terrible thing, it actually offers some benefits:

•  It can help with headaches, joint pain, and other types of pain, including toothaches. It can even help fight bacteria and infection.
•  It can help lower your risk for certain heart or other health conditions.
•  It can increase circulation.

Too Much of a Good Thing
While capsaicin can help with tooth pain, and help you fight infection, it can be harmful if eaten in high doses. It can burn your taste buds. It can also irritate the gum tissue, causing it to swell. When this happens, your gums pull away from your teeth, leaving openings between in which food particles and bacteria can fall. Unable to easily reach these areas with a toothbrush and floss, you become at an increased risk for developing gum disease.

If you already have gum disease, an infection that, at first, affects your gums (a condition known as gingivitis), leaving them red and inflamed. Tender enough as they are, capsaicin can cause significantly more pain, and interfere with your ability to heal.

Limit Pepper Intake

If you enjoy hot peppers, you may want to consider limiting your intake, especially if you are suffering from any level of gum disease. You should also avoid peppers when you are healing from any kind of dental procedure, otherwise your gums will continue to be irritated and it will take longer to heal. And make sure to brush and floss regularly to keep your teeth and gums healthy, and don't forget to visit your dentist at least twice a year.

Please contact our office if you have any questions about peppers effects on your oral health.

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Bird Family Dentistry
4707 S Junett St
Tacoma, WA 98409
(253) 777-0252

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