Your mouth and overall wellness are closely connected. Taking certain vitamins for your teeth and gums may be just as important as taking supplements for the rest of your body, particularly for reducing inflammation. What vitamins are good for gum disease and reducing bleeding or swollen gums? We’ll break it down and explain which vitamins matter most.
How Vitamins Impact Your Oral Health
Just like fluoride and calcium, your teeth, jaw, and oral tissues need a balance of certain vitamins and minerals to develop and function optimally. Understanding the right types of supplements and what vitamins are good for gum disease can help you enjoy a healthier smile.
It’s not healthy for gums to bleed during brushing and flossing. Yet, bleeding gums are a common concern in people with gingivitis and more advanced stages of periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease is a progressive infection that begins as gingivitis. Left untreated, it will evolve into a condition involving generalized bone loss, gum recession, and tooth loss.
If you’ve had gum disease in the past, are currently undergoing periodontal therapy, or gum infections “run in your family,” supplementing with the correct vitamins could help you better manage oral infections, swelling, and bleeding gums.
If you brush and floss properly each day but still experience bleeding gums, a vitamin deficiency could be partly to blame. Studies suggest that specific vitamins can help you manage bleeding or swollen gums. Moreover, researchers have linked nutritional or vitamin deficiencies to other oral health concerns, such as oral cancer, oral thrush, and geographic tongue, a condition characterized by red patches on the tongue. Identifying specific nutritional deficiencies can be part of a comprehensive care plan to improve your overall oral wellness and reverse gingivitis symptoms.
Vitamin C and Bleeding Gums
Does vitamin C deficiency cause bleeding gums? Yes, people with a vitamin C deficiency may be more prone to issues such as gum overgrowth, swelling, bleeding, and periodontal disease. Research suggests that people who have vitamin C deficiencies, particularly in the presence of a metabolic syndrome, are more prone to bleeding and infected gums.
In studies of people with symptoms of periodontal disease, those at a greater risk of gum bleeding had lower vitamin C levels in their bloodstream. Moreover, severe vitamin C deficiency for three months or longer can cause a condition called scurvy. Symptoms include fatigue, irritability, joint pain, and bleeding gums. In the past, soldiers and sailors got scurvy if they couldn’t eat fresh fruits and vegetables on their tours of duty. Although it’s not as common today because of readily available produce, people who have metabolic disorders or restrictive diets may find that a vitamin C deficiency can lead to similar symptoms.
Does Vitamin C Help Gum Disease?
If a vitamin C deficiency can cause bleeding gums, can supplementing with vitamin C help with bleeding gums? Yes! Taking regular vitamins for teeth and gums, particularly vitamin C, can help you heal and manage gum disease when paired with appropriate home-care techniques. Plus, experimenting with a vitamin C supplement is fairly easy and safe, so consider adding a supplement to your daily diet and home-care routine. The Mayo Clinic recommends taking at least 65-90 milligrams of vitamin C each day.
Keep in mind that vitamin supplements won’t eliminate all sources of gum infection. It’s also necessary to physically remove dental plaque deposits from your teeth and gums by flossing, brushing, and scheduling routine, preventative dental cleanings. Supplementing with C vitamins for teeth and gums can help if you have good oral hygiene, but it won’t counteract the inflammatory response caused by aggressive periodontitis and tartar deep below the gumlines.
Vitamin C also won’t spur the regrowth of gum tissue. What vitamins are good for receding gums? Unfortunately, gum recession is not reversible through dietary changes or oral hygiene modification. It results from tissue detaching from the root surfaces because of infection or trauma. The only way to raise the height of receded gumlines is to undergo soft tissue therapy such as a graft or similar periodontal procedure. Taking certain vitamins or other supplements will not cause your gum tissues to grow back. However, vitamin C can help with bleeding gums and milder gingivitis before recession occurs.
Vitamin D and Bleeding Gums
Vitamin C gets the most attention when it comes to oral health, but researchers have linked other vitamin deficiencies to tender and bleeding gums as well, including vitamin D. Humans absorb vitamin D while outside in the sunlight. But if you spend extensive amounts of time indoors, you may not get the recommended dose of vitamin D each day without additional supplementation.
Can vitamin D deficiency cause bleeding gums? Yes! Researchers have linked vitamin D deficiency with a higher risk for periodontal disease, which can eventually lead to tooth loss. This finding makes sense because vitamin D plays a direct role in musculoskeletal health throughout the entire body.
Extensive research shows that vitamin D also serves an anti-inflammatory purpose, further reinforcing its importance when it comes to preventing and healing gum disease. Studies suggest vitamin D also improves the function of certain cells that secrete specific types of molecules known for their antibiotic properties. In short, vitamin D helps reduce overall inflammation and can improve the immune system’s ability to respond to harmful bacteria throughout the body, including inside the mouth. Does vitamin D deficiency cause bleeding gums? It could, given the close relationship between balanced oral homeostasis and the overall cardiovascular system.
What Vitamin Deficiency Causes Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. It’s characterized by swollen, tender, and bleeding gums. Initially, inadequate plaque removal along the gumlines each day typically causes gingivitis. However, vitamin deficiencies may aggravate gingivitis symptoms.
Which vitamin deficiency causes bleeding gums, swelling, and contributes to gingivitis? As mentioned, the most common vitamin associated with gingivitis is vitamin C and taking a supplement daily may help.
In addition, a deficiency of niacin, or vitamin B-3, may also cause bleeding gums and gingivitis. Keep reading to learn more about the relationship between B vitamins and oral health.
Remember, proper brushing and flossing are essential to reverse gingivitis symptoms. If you’re brushing and flossing and your gums continue to bleed or look swollen after two weeks, you could potentially be deficient in one of these two vitamins (or have more advanced gum disease). Ask your doctor about a blood test if you think you may have a deficiency. In addition to these vitamins which are linked to gingivitis, many vitamins may be important for your general oral health.
What Vitamins Are Good for Gum Health?
What vitamins are good for gum health in general? In addition to vitamins C and D, optimizing your intake of the following nutrients may help improve your overall oral health.
- Vitamin A
While researchers haven’t linked vitamin A to gingivitis, your vitamin A levels may impact whether your gums bleed during soft tissue exams at your dentist’s office. Foods rich in vitamin A include cheese, eggs, fatty fish, and milk.
- B vitamins
Clinical research shows that a deficiency in vitamin B is linked to dental problems such as gingivitis and weakened tooth enamel. The same experts also tell us that using oral care products that have B-3 and B-5 included in the ingredients helps reduce tartar buildup. Because the presence of tartar is a predominant factor in how aggressive a person’s gum disease is, adding these vitamins into your daily routine could potentially reduce your chances of having bleeding and swollen gums.
Vitamin B-1 is found in nuts, peas, bananas, oranges, and whole-grain bread. B-2 is in foods such as milk, eggs, yogurt, and mushrooms. You can get B-3 from various meats, eggs, and wheat flour and B-5 from meats, eggs, mushrooms, and avocados.
- Vitamin E
While not necessarily linked to gum health, researchers have linked vitamin E to cavities. A 2012 study suggests that vitamin E supplementation seems to lead to a balanced fluoride level inside the teeth and bones, potentially optimizing the doses needed for cavity prevention and bone health. Studies have shown that Vitamin E is directly correlated to a higher risk of cavities, particularly in children. Vitamin E is in sunflower oil, vegetable oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and wheat germ.
How to Get the Right Vitamins for Teeth and Gums
When it comes to healthy teeth and gums, vitamins and minerals can be beneficial both when applied topically and ingested. Because gum tissues are like other mucosal tissues in the body, they’re able to better absorb topical medications and oral-care ingredients, such as those from mouthwash or toothpaste. To ensure you get the right vitamins for healthy teeth and gums, talk to your doctor and oral-health team about making dietary changes, using specific oral care products, and taking nutritional supplements. The key is to optimize your intake of certain nutrients, particularly vitamins C and D, which have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce gum bleeding and swelling.
Dr. Elizabeth Clary, D.M.D. is a member of the American Dental Association, Missouri Dental Association, Missouri Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Chicago Dental Society, Greater St. Louis Dental Society, and Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine Alumni Association.