Health > Prevention > Nutrition
Do you brush and floss as recommended, but find that your gums still
bleed and are receding? Your nutrition may have something
to do with that.
When it comes to vitamin
C and healthy gums, more is better. How does vitamin C help
to keep your gums healthy?
Your body needs vitamin C to strengthen your bones and blood vessels,
to anchor your teeth into your gums, and to form the "intracellular
cement" your body needs for growth, tissue repair and wound healing.
Vitamin C is vital to the production of collagen, the basic protein
building block for the fibrous framework of all tissues, including the
gums. Vitamin C strengthens weak gum tissue and makes the gum lining
more resistant to penetration by bacteria.
When your gums bleed when you brush or floss, and are irritated, tender,
swollen or red, you have early gum disease, called gingivitis. This
is caused by food particles and bacteria left on your teeth, combining
to form plaque, which hardens on your teeth and becomes tartar (also
The bacteria in plaque infect your gums, and cause them to pull back
and away from your teeth (recede), forming pockets where even more bacteria
can hide and reproduce. If it's not taken care of, this infection starts
attacking the roots of your teeth and the bone in your jaw, causing
irreversible damage which can lead to bone loss. At this stage, gingivitis
has progressed to become a more serious gum problem called periodontal
disease, the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S.
physicians recommend a higher daily dosage of vitamin C - 1,000-2.000
milligrams of timed-release vitamin C, taken as two doses (one in the
morning, and one in the evening). Vitamin C can cause diarrhea in doses
exceeding 1,200 milligrams, so if you experience digestive problems
on the higher dosage, cut back.
chewable vitamin C, as it's often sugar sweetened and can erode your
tooth enamel. A form of vitamin C called "ester C" has been
shown to be less irritating to the stomach. Your doctor should be able
to tell you which vitamin C would be best for you, and how much you
should take each day.
oxidants from cigarette smoking lower vitamin C levels
in the blood, smokers need higher levels of dietary vitamin C to help
counteract smoke's oxidants. However, cigarette smoke contains numerous
oxidants that can cause periodontal tissue damage regardless of vitamin
C intake. The federal dietary panel recommends that smokers get at least
35 milligrams off additional vitamin C each day, above what is recommended
A nutritious balanced diet is crucial to your speedy
recovery following periodontal treatment, since adequate and appropriate
vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins are needed for growth of new tissues
and healing of wounds.
Higher doses of vitamin C and multi-vitamin supplements
before periodontal surgery enhance the healing process and decrease
the possibility of infection. Along with vitamin C, we recommend vitamins
A, E, B, K and D.
Many fruits and vegetables are great
sources of vitamin C, but since exposure to oxygen destroys vitamin
C in foods, it's important that you eat them soon after they've been
cut open. For example, a sliced cantaloupe left uncovered in the refrigerator
loses 35 percent of its vitamin C in less than 24 hours:
• Red and green sweet peppers
• Guavas, papayas and mangoes
• Kale, parsley and collard leaves
• Broccoli, red cabbage and cauliflower
• Strawberries and raspberries
• Green onions
• Cantaloupe and honeydew
• Home Care