News & Press
John C. Chao, D.D.S., M.A.G.D
Faculty, USC School of Dentistry
Vitamin C Strengthens Gums
Vitamin c has been "shown to have quite a positive effect on the mouth when in adequate levels in the body and a negative effect on the mouth when in low levels," according to Cherilyn Sheets, D.D.S., a spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry.
To measure the effect of vitamin c deficiency on gum health, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Dentistry, for 14 weeks fed 11 men on a rotating diet excluding fruits and vegetables. Vitamin c was added during certain weeks. Researchers found that as vitamin c levels in the men went down, their gums bled more. When they received more vitamin c in the form of grapefruit juice, their gums bled less. Further laboratory research confirmed that vitamin c deficiency causes gum bleeding, decreased mineral content in the jawbone and loose teeth.
To explain these results, Mary Dan Eades, medical director of the Arkansas Center for Health and Weight Control, states that vitamin c is vital for production of collagen, the building block for the fibrous framework of all tissues, including gums. "Vitamin c strengthens weak gum tissue and makes gum lining more resistant to penetration by bacteria," Dr. Eades said.
Crystalline vitamin c mixed with a sugar-free citrus drink can be swished in the mouth for a minute, and then swallowed, twice a day, according to Dr. Eades. Chewable vitamin c can erode enamel. Dr. Eade states that, as an alternative, a patient can take a 500 milligram slow-release vitamin c capsule, one or two capsules in the morning or evening. Be sure to consult with your dentist or your physician as to how and what amount of vitamin c you should take. Amounts exceeding 1,200 milligrams a day may induce side effects, such as diarrhea.
As important as vitamin c is, it is only an adjunct to dental health. Regular brushing, flossing and visits to the dentist are essential in keeping your smile bright and attractive.