The Role of Nutrition and Supplements to Prevent and Treat Gum Disease
As a holistic dentist when I see a patient who has gum disease I see someone who is showing signs of inflammation and oxidative stress (caused by excessive free radicals). I consider dental disease to be a sign of systemic disease and as such the treatment of gum disease and its prevention has to focus on more than just brushing and flossing your teeth and gums. As you will have seen from my series of blogs on the subject gum disease is affected by your oral hygiene, lifestyle, health and wellbeing and what you eat.
Essentially gum disease is due to inflammation in the mouth and the body. By reducing inflammation you can improve your health and the health of your gums.
What causes inflammation?
Bacteria, stress, lack of sleep, processed foods, sugar, alcohol, smoking, environmental toxins and chemicals, negative thoughts and emotions and too much physical strain on the body like intense and prolonged exercising.
Reducing inflammation and oxidative stress are key to improving dental health and preventing problems like gum disease and dental decay.
Nutrition plays a major role in oral health. By supplying your body with optimal nutrition and the best nutrients you can support your body to reduce inflammation, prevent gum problems and actually help improve the health of your gums and mouth.
However there are times when food alone is not enough to bring the body back to health and in these circumstances supplements can prove extremely beneficial and supportive.
The supplements that I normally recommend to my patients to support gum health are:
Also know as CoQ10 and ubiquinone. CoQ10 occurs naturally in your body and in a variety of foods. It plays a key role in the production of cellular energy and is a powerful antioxidant. It is much more potent and powerful than Vitamin C. CoQ10 has been shown in research studies to reduce gum inflammation and infection in periodontal disease.
CoQ10 supplements are readily available and I would recommend oil based capsules as they are better absorbed and utilised by the body.
A potent antioxidant which plays a major role in synthesis of collagen. Vitamin C is essential for healthy gums. Vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables like berries, broccoli and spinach. However you would have to consume these in vast quantities to obtain anywhere near the dosage of Vitamin C required to significantly reduce inflammation and improve existing gum conditions. My recommendation is to supplement 1000 - 3000 mg Vitamin C per day to help treat and prevent periodontal disease.
Zinc is very beneficial in supporting gum health, it helps keep gum tissue strong and resilient and combats bacterial plaque formation. Zinc is crucial for a healthy functioning immune system. Zinc can be found in meat and shellfish and pumpkin seeds
Supplement with up to 15mg zinc per day to support your immune system and your gums.
Selenium is an important antioxidant that mops up free radicals that create inflammation. Selenium is found in nuts (especially Brazil nuts) and vegetables.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit seed extract has proven antibiotic qualities. Try adding a drop to your toothpaste when you clean your teeth.
Cranberries and cranberry juice (no added sugar variety please) work by preventing bacteria from sticking to your teeth and gums.
About 90ml per day of cranberry juice should be sufficient.
If you are prone to kidney stones or taking warfarin make sure you consult your doctor before supplementing with cranberry juice or tablets
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Studies in the "Journal of Dental Research" suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may be useful in the fight against the bone loss seen in advanced gum disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to be beneficial in the treatment of numerous inflammatory conditions. Many people do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diets. The richest dietary sources are fatty fish but fish oil is a good substitute or supplement to boost omega-3 levels.
Vitamin D and Calcium
A study published in the "Journal of Periodontology" found that patients in a periodontal maintenance program who took both vitamin D and calcium had better periodontal health than patients who didn't take those supplements. Vitamin D is necessary for optimal calcium absorption. Calcium is the most common mineral found in the body and is essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
Vitamins A, C and E
Consuming adequate amounts of vitamin A, C and E is crucial for gum health. Vitamin C and E act as a powerful antioxidant team that protect the cells in your gums (and body) from the free radical damage that can lead to periodontal disease. Vitamin A supports a healthy immune system that is resistant to infection.
Essential oils can be used to help treat and prevent gum disease due to their antibacterial properties. There are several essential oils that you can use own their own or in combination with each other such as: clove, eucalyptus, tea tree, peppermint, oregano, rosemary, cinnamon, myrrh, thyme and fennel.
To make a simple mouth rinse add 6 drops of oil to 1 cup of warm water and rinse your mouth after brushing.
In summary inflammation and oxidative stress weakens the defences and healing properties of the body, they impair the function of the immune system and create and environment where bacteria can flourish leading to more inflammation and oxidation.
Inflammation and gum disease go hand in hand and by reducing inflammation, improving nutrition, supporting the body with the right supplements and oral care gum disease can be treated and prevented.
If you have any concerns about your gums or dental health or would like some advice on how to best manage your oral care then please call us 07 3720 1811 to book a consultation and oral health assessment, we are more than happy to help.