“What can I do to get my gums healthier?” and “Can I take some vitamins to help?”
These are the two most common questions that I get after discussing periodontal (gum) health issues with my patients. We already know that your daily oral hygiene routine and regular dental visits with your hygienist will reduce the bacteria responsible for periodontal disease, which is an important factor in controlling the health of your gums. However, there are some other factors like dietary supplements and nutrients that also play an important role in the health of your gums and your teeth. Inspired by these questions, I have summarized the most important supplements and their role in rebuilding and maintaining periodontal health.
Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins involved in the process of collagen synthesis, which is a crucial building block of the periodontal tissues. Vitamin C also has antioxidant properties. It has been shown that a higher level of dietary vitamin C is found in patients with improved healing after periodontal treatments. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin C in Canada is 90 mg for an adult male, and 75 mg for an adult female; an additional 35mg per day is advised for smokers to counteract additional oxidative stress. Smoking can enhance oxidative stress through the production of reactive oxygen radicals by weakening the antioxidant defence system and by creating an inflammatory response caused by the cigarette’s compounds. Along with smoking, having a higher body mass index (BMI) is also a risk factor for having lower concentrations of vitamin C. The water solubility of vitamin C and urinary excretion doesn’t allow for storage of excess amounts of vitamin C in our body, so it is important to ensure adequate daily consumption. Studies show that less than 3% of the general population (20-79 years of age) are deficient in vitamin C. This means that if you are a non-smoking female and you have 100g of strawberries and 100g of raspberries per day, you should meet your daily requirement of vitamin C. It is also important to know that there are no adverse effects reported with vitamin C supplementation if needed.
Studies show that people consuming calcium rich foods are less likely to have periodontal disease. The RDA of calcium is 1000 mg for males 19-70 years of age and females 19-50 years of age. An increase to 1200 mg per day is recommended for males over 70 and females over 50 years of age. An alternative choice to dairy is a fortified soy beverage that has the amount of calcium and vitamin D equal to milk products. So, if you are a 20-year-old male and you have a cup of All-Bran Buds with a cup of milk for breakfast, a Greek yogurt with your lunch, and 100g of baked salmon with a cup of kale salad, you should be meeting your daily calcium requirement.
Vitamin D requirements are a bit different than others. While it is essential for healthy bones and teeth, the production of bacteria fighting compounds in the mouth, and in absorbing calcium, it is difficult to reach the RDA of vitamin D with diet alone. Most foods contain only small amounts of vitamin D. It is synthesized in your body following exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. This can increase your risk of skin cancer. As well, the difficulties of naturally acquired vitamin D are doubled by the fact that there is a short yearly exposure to sunlight in Canada. Since low levels of vitamin D are associated with risk of gingivitis, chronic periodontitis, and loss of bone in the jaw, it is vital to meet the RDA each day. Osteoporosis Canada advises healthy adults aged 19-50 to supplement their daily intake of vitamin D with a daily dose 400-1000 IU. Individuals who are at a higher risk of fractures, or who are over 50-years-old, should supplement vitamin D with between 800 and 2000 IU per day. It is also important to recognise that vitamin D3 is considered preferable over vitamin D2, due to its greater ability to increase the total vitamin D levels in your body.
With all of this being said, if you’re not sure about which vitamins you should take, and what your periodontal needs are, the staff at Escarpment View Dental can help you! Come visit us at 1030 Kennedy Circle, or call us at (905) 693-8929 to make an appointment!