Research: periodontal disease and vitamin C
Connection between periodontitis/gingivitis & plasma ascorbic acid levels
While hundreds of scientific studies (as well as much anecdotal evidence) point to a link between gum disease and a lack of vitamin C, the following provides a small sample of the ongoing research into the subject.
- Vitamin C in plasma and leucocytes in relation to periodontitis.
This study (Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 2012) verified the hypothesis that vitamin C concentrations in plasma are indeed lower in individuals with periodontitis than in healthy controls. Interestingly, dietary vitamin C intake appeared to be similar (which would suggest that for some reason, the vitamin C ingested either did not end up in the blood of the periodontitis patients or perhaps more likely, the latter used up more vitamin C - maybe due to stress).
- 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)
- A short-term evaluation of the relationship between plasma ascorbic acid levels and periodontal disease in systemically healthy and type 2 diabetes mellitus subjects.
Similar to the other studies, the present investigation (Journal of dietary supplements, 2013) confirmed previous findings that plasma levels of ascorbic acid are significantly higher in individuals without gum disease and that vitamin C supplementation (here augmented with scaling and root planing) tended to improve signs of periodontal disease.
- 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".
Incidentally, in today's world vitamin C deficiency is likely to be very common.
Testimonials: successfully using vitamin C for gum problems
A number of impressive reports can be found under Periodontal disease and vitamin C: Healing periodontitis/gingivitis with ascorbic acid?.
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1 It is well known that stress can trigger gum disease, see e.g. Curing gum (periodontal) pockets: Healing periodontitis naturally (incl. psychological issues in gum disease).