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Q
Guarding Your Gums?
I am a 30-year-old woman and have recently been diagnosed with mild to moderate periodontal disease. Are there any supplements I can take to help reverse this condition?
A
Answer (Published 6/16/2003)

Periodontal disease is a chronic gum infection caused by bacteria in plaque, the sticky film that constantly forms on teeth. The affected tissue becomes inflamed (gingivitis) and, if it isn't treated, can erode along with the bone that supports the teeth. The end result is loss of teeth.

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In addition to good dental hygiene (daily brushing and flossing plus regular checkups by your dentist or periodontist), I can make several recommendations that will help.

If you smoke, the most important change you can make is to quit immediately. Smokers are at increased risk for periodontal disease, because nicotine reduces blood flow to the gums, making them more susceptible to bacterial attack. Studies suggest that some 30 percent of the population is genetically susceptible to gum disease, and stress may also be a factor. Certain drugs, including birth control pills, anti-depressants, and some heart medicines may increase your risk as well.

You're also at increased risk if you consume less than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C. A study published in the August 2000 issue of the Journal of Periodontology showed that patients who consumed less than the recommended daily allowance of 60 mg per day (about one orange) were at nearly one-and-a-half times the risk of developing severe gingivitis as those who consumed three times the RDA (more than 180 mg).

In addition, I recommend the following:

  • Coenzyme Q10: Take 100-120 mg per day of a soft-gel form with meals as well as my antioxidant formula.
  • Calcium: Take 500-700 mg of calcium daily.

Andrew Weil, MD

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