Vitamin C & The Heart-Gum Connection

Posted on Feb 24, 2014 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

The Heart Attack Connection: According to the American Academy of Periodontology, people who have periodontal (gum) disease are twice as likely to get heart disease. Research has also shown that the more dental problems one has (missing teeth, cavities), the higher their risk of having heart disease.

The Stroke Connection:  A study published by the American Heart Association shows that people with higher blood levels of oral bacteria had greater risks of getting atherosclerosis in the neck’s carotid artery, which increases one’s potential for stroke.

Although it has not been determined how gum disease affects stroke and heart attack risk, it is known that oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream through diseased tissues in the mouth. Once bloodborne, this bacteria causes a plaque clogging artery, leading to a higher risk for major – even deadly – consequences. As a Periodontist, this is further proof that the link to your oral health and your overall health should be taken seriously.

Some helpful news was recently released in the Journal of Periodontology, however. Apparently, people who consume at least 180 mg of Vitamin C per day give gums and teeth a healthy boost. Vitamin C is an anti-inflammatory that binds cells to build connective tissue with collagen. It also increases bone regrowth, which helps to restore healthy gums and teeth.

Recommended sources of vitamin C include coconut water, citrus fruits, red peppers, brussels sprouts, broccoli and oranges. Because chewable vitamin C is highly acidic, it can erode tooth enamel and should be avoided. A non-acidic vitamin C can be purchased in a white powder form if your diet falls short of vitamin C rich foods. Another option is vitamin C chewing gum.

Healthy teeth and gums create a more attractive smile, help you avoid bad breath and help you avoid tooth loss. While foods and vitamins are beneficial in maintaining a healthy mouth, starting with a ‘clean slate’ is to your advantage. If you haven’t seen your dentist on a regular basis and do not floss daily, arrange a periodontal examination by calling (828) 274-9440.

When you also consider that a healthy mouth can help you avoid heart attack and stroke, that’s a significant reason to be committed to your oral health.

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