Periodontitis is a serious gum infection, caused by plaque and bacteria accumulating below the gum line. Left untreated, it can destroy gum and bone tissue, resulting in loss of teeth. While poor dental hygiene plays a role in the development of periodontal disease, poor nutrition also can be a factor, according to MayoClinic.com. Because deficiencies of certain vitamins have been associated with gum disease, correcting deficiencies should be an integral component of treatment.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin important for the growth and repair of all tissues including bones and teeth. Vitamin C also is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help the body prevent some of the damage caused by free radicals, by-products of metabolism. Inflammation and bleeding of the gums are among the signs of a vitamin C deficiency. However, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, serious deficiencies of vitamin C are rare in industrialized countries. Because smoking depletes vitamin C, smokers have an increased risk of deficiency. Because vitamin C can't be stored by the body, it must be consumed in food or a supplement every day. A good source is most fruit including citrus fruits, watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe, kiwi, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and cranberries. Vitamin C also is found in many vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, potatoes and cooked leafy greens, such as turnip and spinach. The University of Maryland Medical Center advises eating fruits and vegetables raw or only lightly cooked since heat can destroy vitamin C.
Vitamins D, K and A
Vitamin D deficiency is implicated in a number of diseases including periodontitis. The Vitamin D council states that blood levels of vitamin D should be between 50 to 80 ng/mL. The body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight, then converts it into its active form. However, if you live in northern latitudes, it's impossible to produce vitamin D from the sun in the winter because the sun never gets high enough in the sky for its ultraviolet rays to penetrate the atmosphere. Also, some people don't spend enough time in the sun during the warm months; therefore, vitamin D deficiencies are common. Vitamin D also can be obtained from some foods, such as fish and fortified dairy products, as well as supplements.
When the body converts vitamin D into its active form, vitamin K and a small amount of vitamin A are needed for the process. Both of these vitamins are found in leafy green vegetables. Vitamin A also can be found in orange vegetables and fruit, such as sweet potatoes and cantaloupe.
The vitamin B complex is made up of eight vitamins. They are thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folic acid and B-12. The American Dental Hygienists' Association lists B vitamins as important to oral health. They are needed for cell growth and for healthy blood, all of which contributes to healthy gum tissue. B-12 is found in animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, but is not naturally found in plant-based food sources. The other B vitamins are found in whole grains and many vegetables, as well as animal products.
- MayoClinic.com: Periodontitis Risk Factors
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin C
- Vitamin D Council: Understanding Vitamin D Cholecalciferol
- American Dental Hygienists’ Association
- PubMed.gov: Vitamin D Status and Periodontal Disease Among Pregnant Women
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Periodontal Disease - Risk Factors