Oral 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 vita
min 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 calculus).

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.

Some 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.

Avoid 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.


Since 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 for non-smokers.

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 chili peppers
• Red and green sweet peppers
• Guavas, papayas and mangoes
• Kale, parsley and collard leaves
• Broccoli, red cabbage and cauliflower
• Strawberries and raspberries
• Spinach
• Green onions
• Oysters
• Soybeans
• Cantaloupe and honeydew
• Tomatoes
• Peas

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Copyright © 2003 MyPerio - All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2003 MyPerio - All rights reserved.