A Natural Approach to Oral Health

A Natural Approach to Oral Health

Posted on 15. Jan, 2010 by in Nutrition

Second only to the common cold as the most prevalent infectious ailment in the U.S., periodontal disease affects 75 percent of us over age 35, and its rate increases with age. It’s the major cause of adult tooth loss. Periodontal disease is used to describe both gingivitis and/or periodontitis. Gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, is caused by plaque (sticky deposits of bacteria, food particles, and mucus) that adheres to the teeth. If plaque accumulates, it can cause the gums to become swollen and infected. As the gums swell, pockets form between the gums and teeth. These pockets trap even more plaque. Poorly fitting fillings and genetics can also contribute to developing gingivitis.

If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, which is characterized by pain, loose teeth, redness, swelling, and other signs of infection. In periodontitis, the bone structure supporting the teeth starts to erode as a result of the infection.

Beyond The Mouth

While oral hygiene is vital in treating and preventing periodontal disease, in many cases, diligent brushing and flossing aren’t enough—the state of the individual’s immune system is crucial to control the progression of the disease. Like most conditions, periodontal disease is often a reflection of deficiencies or underlying disorders in the body. For example, bleeding gums may be a sign of vitamin C deficiency. It may also be a sign of general nutritional deficiency.

Our nutritional status determines how strong our defenses are. This makes it essential to enhance the status of the immune system with specific nutrients to treat and prevent periodontal disease.

Correct Deficiencies

One of the most crucial vitamins for preventing periodontal disease is vitamin C. Vitamin C has significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and it plays a major role in maintaining the integrity of the periodontal membrane and collagen matrix. Deficiency is associated with osteoporosis and the cessation of bone formation. It’s also associated with delayed wound healing.

Vitamin A is also important for a healthy mouth. Deficiency actually predisposes a person to periodontal disease and is associated with inflammation and the formation of plaque and periodontal pockets. This vitamin is needed for collagen synthesis, wound healing, and immune support.

The antioxidant activity of E and selenium deter periodontal disease. These two nutrients seem to work together. Studies show that E alone significantly decreases wound-healing time in individuals with severe periodontal disease. Look for a formula that contains both vitamin E and selenium for the best results.

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