Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and Minerals in Dentistry
Most people have heard from their dentists that poor oral hygiene, such as not brushing, flossing, or rinsing enough, is the leading cause of gum disease. High sugar diets and smoking are also factors that can increase oral problems. These problems can cause bad breath, decay, gum disease, and eventual tooth loss.
Supplements, together with good oral hygiene, can aid in decreasing the incidence of the above conditions. Vitamins, such as a vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) , flavanoids and coenzyme Q10 are powerful antioxidants that can protect the gums against cell damage and also the degree of healing. Vitamin C is vital for the production of collagen, the main protein building-block for fibrous framework of all living tissues, which, in turn, makes it more resistant to bacterial penetration. Vitamin C also promotes healthy capillaries, which aids oral tissue in staying healthy. If one is deficient in Vitamin C, scurvy, swollen gums, loss of teeth, bleeding gums, nosebleeds, and anemia can result.
Coenzyme Q 10 (CoQ) is necessary for energy production. The reason for this is that CoQ is part of the mitochondria found in cells. CoQ also aids in the control of oxygen flow within cells. Although much literature has been written about cardiac responses to CoQ, recent studies have found that it aids in tissue healing in the mouth. As a catalyst for metabolism, this aids in providing the cells with energy, wound healing, and as an antioxidant, which aids in neutralizing the cell damaging molecules known as free radicals.
Vitamin B-9 (folic acid) has been found to promote normal red-blood-cell formation. It aids in the treatment of anemia caused by folic acid deficiencies.
Flavanoids, of which more than 4000 exist, are what give colors to fruits, vegetables, and herbs. They are found in legumes, grains and nuts. They, too, are quite potent antioxidants. The way flavanoids aid the mouth is in their ability to reduce inflammation, prevent the release of histamine (which causes allergy symptoms), fight free radicals, increase one’s immunity, strengthen blood vessels and increase blood flow to certain areas.
Vitamin E, also a strong antioxidant, helps protect cell membranes. Studies have found that Vitamin E improves the immune function in the elderly, who are more prone to gum disease. It is mostly used as an antioxidant and cardiovascular agent.
Vitamin D is also called the sunshine vitamin. Our bodies make all the Vitamin D we need with enough sunlight. It is very essential for the health of bones and teeth because it regulates blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Without sufficient vitamin D, the body cannot absorb calcium from food or supplements, no matter how much calcium one consumes. If one has low calcium levels or high phosphorus levels, a correlation with a higher incidence of periodontal disease has been found. The calcium to phosphorus levels must be at a one to one ratio. Vitamin D will aid in their regulation and is, therefore, very important in dentistry.
There are further studies being conducted as to the importance of other vitamins and minerals for good dental health. As with any treatments, consultation with one’s dentist and physician is very important. One must remember to brush and floss daily, remove soft drinks with sugar from one’s diet, and decrease the overall amount of sugar intake. One should consult with the healthcare provider as to the recommended daily allowable amount of vitamins and minerals .