Periodontal disease and vitamin C
Healing periodontitis/gingivitis with ascorbic acid?
Available anecdotal evidence and a number of scientific research studies suggest that people afflicted with gum disease might wish to try one of the simplest and cheapest DIY therapies available - increasing your vitamin C intake, even massively.
Gum disease and vitamin C: impressive testimonials
1) Serious periodontal disease permanently healed
This case was reported 13 years after x-ray diagnosis of serious periodontal disease including numerous smaller and larger pockets.
The dentist had already started working on some of the patient's teeth (scraping off deposits). Wishing to avoid the tremendous outlay for dental treatments the patient was facing and having previously heard of a University of Texas study according to which 1 gram of vitamin C per day could prevent periodontal disease, the patient immediately started taking 15 g of C per day, equally divided over three meals. After three months, he had his teeth x-rayed again. To the dentist's amazement, the number and size of the patient's periodontal pockets had strongly diminished, with some of the smaller pockets completely gone and the larger ones less than half their original size. Interestingly, this person had not changed his diet or anything else about his lifestyle, so the healing of his strongly compromised gums can only be ascribed to the high-dose vitamin C therapy he undertook (as well as to the placebo effect which of course applies to any kind of treatment one believes in).1
2) Very aggressive and painful gum disease being healed with megadoses of vitamin C
Reported on the internet and in a private communication2
For years the lady in question had had her teeth professionelly cleaned every 3-4 months. When her dentist started pointing out that she had developed problems with her gums, she had no pain and felt no symptoms of gum disease. Several years later, she finally did develop pain. In addition to receding gums which constantly bled, every time she ate, food would collect in her gum pockets which was very painful. By this point, she had lost so much bone in her jaw that her teeth were on the point of falling out.
In desperation, she tried a number of dental treatments which however were nothing but band-aids, i.e. they would help for a month or two only for the bleeding to return. Although no dentist and periodontist she had seen had given her any hope regarding her receding gums, she finally tried high-dose vitamin C treatment on her own initiative.
Starting at 20 grams a day, she gradually tapered down the dose (at the time of last reporting, she has been taking 2 - 5 g of vitamin C every day for ten months).
Since starting on the vitamin C, plaque and tartar stopped building up on her teeth and below her gumline. When she went for a cleaning after not having had one for nine months, the hygienist actually found nothing to clean.
She is convinced that the cause of her gum disease was a lack of vitamin C and that she is on the road to full recovery. She currently observes her receding gums growing back and no longer has pain at mealtimes (since the previous gum pocket spaces are now filled with new, healthy gum tissue).
She has not had any more x-rays since starting on the vitamin C regimen but writes she would not be surprised if even her jaw bone had started to grow back (another impossibility according to the dentists she saw, although also reported by other individuals4).
Update November 30, 2014
"I'm so happy to hear my story is helping others! I still take between 5 - 15 grams of buffered Vitamin C powder every day (I go by feeling, do I need more or less today?) and I still have all my teeth except the one I allowed the dentist to pull before I started taking the vitamin C (which I totally regret!) I do want to say while it has been a miracle for me, it is a treatment, not a cure. I really have to be diligent with it because even missing one day, my teeth start to loosen and my gums become painful and inflamed. I do not leave my house without vitamin C!
It's an ongoing battle, I know I'll have to fight the rest of my life. But it's soooo much better than the helplessness and hopelessness I felt before learning about high dose Vitamin C. I believe most diseases are a result of the body not getting enough of the nutrients it needs or an inability to use those nutrients effectively. I think my body uses vitamin C at a much faster rate than most people, so that I have to keep replenishing on a constant basis. Again, I have no doctor or dentist to confirm this but really, who cares? It works for me, my teeth are still in my mouth where they should be even though I was told I should have lost them all by the time I was 33. I'm 36 now. Doctors don't know everything. Listen to your body."
3) Megadoses of vitamin C plus iodine (potassium iodide) administration against gum disease
Physician Dr. Richard A. Kunin shares an interesting case report. Following a major alcoholic spree, the teeth of one of his patients had become so loose they were moving in their sockets, and his gums had filled with pus. Only one week of topical potassium iodide application on the gums combined with high-dose ascorbic acid plus other nutritional support later, this patient - the dentist had recommended extracting all his teeth - had both his healthy gums back and his teeth had almost normalized - he did not lose a single one. In cases of inflamed gums, gingivitis and periodontitis, Dr Kunin warmly recommends routine topical application of potassium iodide, while also mentioning earlier research by Drs. Caulfield and Wannemuehler showing that iodide (as well as fluoride) - particularly when administered in an acidic solution - could kill Streptococcus mutans (the major culprit involved in tooth decay).
Addendum by Healing Teeth Naturally: There are numerous other/additional measures one can take to powerfully assist one's gums and jawbone. See the numerous healing testimonials on this site as well as the Nutrition, Dental Care and Oral Detoxification section. Three little-known contributors to gum disease are amalgam fillings and conventional toothpaste. as are - apparently - (relationship) problems and other stress.
Research: link between vitamin C/ascorbic acid levels and gum disease
- Dietary vitamin C and the risk for periodontal disease
Published in the Journal of Periodontology in 2000, this study found that individuals with the lowest vitamin C intake who also smoke, are likely to present the most pronounced clinical effect on their periodontal tissues.
- The relationship between dietary factors and susceptibility of periodontal disease
This Chinese study (published in the Shanghai journal of stomatology in 2012) concluded that oral health and antioxidants are closely linked: "Lower dietary vitamin C content, flavonoid content and ß-carotene intake lead to destruction of periodontal tissue and higher incidence of periodontal disease".
- Relations of serum ascorbic acid and a-tocopherol to periodontal disease
This study which appeared in the Journal of Dental Research (2012) concluded that "low serum levels of ascorbic acid and a-tocopherol may be a risk factor for periodontal disease".
- Java project on periodontal diseases: the relationship between vitamin C and the severity of periodontitis
This study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology (2007) found that individuals with vitamin C deficiency (low plasma vitamin C levels) had more periodontal attachment loss which "suggests that vitamin C deficiency may contribute to the severity of periodontal breakdown".
- The prevalence of inflammatory periodontitis is negatively associated with serum antioxidant concentrations
From the study abstract: "Serum concentrations of vitamin C, bilirubin, and total antioxidant levels were inversely associated with periodontitis, the association being stronger in severe disease". (published in The Journal of Nutrition, 2007)
- Periodontitis is associated with a low concentration of vitamin C in plasma.
(published in Clinical and diagnostic laboratory immunology, 2003)
- Vitamin C may help ward off periodontal disease
(published in New York State Dental Journal, 2000)
- UB studies link low dietary calcium, vitamin C with increased risk of periodontal disease
(published in New York State Dental Journal, 1998)
- Periodontal health related to plasma ascorbic acid
(published in Proceedings of the Finnish Dental Society, 1993)
- The effect of ascorbic acid supplementation on periodontal tissue ultrastructure in subjects with progressive periodontitis
(published in International journal for vitamin and nutrition research, 1982)
Why vitamin C can help with gum disease
There are several potential pathways. For one thing, vitamin C is required for collagen synthesis, with collagen forming an essential basic component of bones, gums and dentin. For another, the antioxidant vitamin C strengthens the body's immune defense against invaders. Interestingly, there appears to be a correlation between vitamin C status and oral "debris", irrespective of tooth cleansing habits, hence the moniker for vitamin C, "The Invisible Toothbrush".3
Incidentally, in today's world vitamin C deficiency is likely to be very common.
Vitamin C: notes and caveat
Ascorbic acid with all its undoubtedly outstanding qualities - it has even successfully been applied in cancer treatment5 - is still a synthetic compound since in natural foods vitamin C will never occur as an isolate but only as a complex including bioflavonoids and calcium (the presence of which helps the body to better absorb the ascorbic acid).6
There seem to be relatively few adverse effects reported from high-dose intake of ascorbic acid (the main known complications appear to be diarrhea when dosage exceeds bowel tolerance, and with intravenous vitamin C treatment concern individuals with renal impairment or glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency). One in-vitro study - not necessarily transferable to how the compound acts in vivo - found that "Sustained levels of ascorbic acid are toxic and immunosuppressive for human T cells" (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8744863).
Some authors suggest that ascorbic acid will only trigger diarrhea when the intake exceeds what the body can use - a notion that (to me) makes intuitive sense.
Personally to be on the safest side I would take synthetic ascorbic acid only for relatively short periods of time while otherwise purely relying on natural sources such as citrus fruit and edible wild herbs.
Re healing of gum disease, also compare
- Dr. Gerard F. Judd's detailed advice on tooth and gum healing (Dr. Judd uses a mix of baking soda and ascorbic acid and other measures to heal gums.)
- Herbal tooth and gum powders heal serious chronic periodontitis (after twice daily brushing using conventional toothpaste failed)
- Brushing with bar soap cures severe gum disease (of 20 years standing with loss of teeth)
- Testimonial: cure of advanced gum disease - saving loose teeth from extraction
- Herbal gum pack testimonial (1)
- Herbal gum pack testimonial (2)
- Healing deep gums pockets simply and naturally
- Amalgam mercury fillings cause periodontal (gum) disease (gingivitis, periodontitis)
- Personal testimonial: swollen gum due to rotten molar and (likely) fluoride poisoning.
- as well as this extensive list of Home and herbal gum remedies.
1 The original testimonial can be read here.
4 See Dental health prerequisite number 6: proper mastication - exercise your teeth and gums by chewing well.
7 Additionally, www.doctoryourself.com/gums.html features an interesting report of gum surgery avoided by combining topical calcium ascorbate (a non-acidic form of vitamin C) with drinking a comfrey root decoction for two weeks. For more on comfrey including caveats, see Strengthening teeth and gums.