FAQ - Bleeding Gums
Expert nutritionists share their frequently asked questions…
Q - "I am worried about my teeth as my gums have been bleeding a lot recently and I don’t want to lose my teeth prematurely (I’m only 31). I don’t eat a lot of sugary foods and brush my teeth twice a day. Is there anything else I can do to stop the bleeding and look after my teeth?"
A - If your gums are red, swollen and bleeding it is a sign that oral inflammation is present. If this is continuous, you may have gingivitis; inflammation of the gums caused by plaque on the teeth and the initial stage of tooth decay. Unaddressed, tooth-loss could be the eventual outcome. While this sounds grim, it is not inevitable and can be reversed if you take steps to maintain good oral health with optimum dental nutrition.
Sugar is usually the main culprit, as it feeds the bacteria in the mouth that produce toxins that trigger bleeding gums and inflammation. Oral bacteria also increase the acidity of plaque and saliva that also aids the decay process. While you may think you avoid sugary foods and snacks, look out for hidden sugars in ready-made sauces, ketchups and even medicines. If you do have a sweet tooth, try using xylitol, a tooth-friendly sugar alternative.
However, sugar is really only half the story. Recent research has shown that a deficiency in vitamin C can increase the permeability of oral membranes, allowing more bacteria-generated toxins into the bloodstream.
A magnesium deficiency is also associated with tooth decay. Eating more fruits and green vegetables or supplementing with vitamin C and magnesium may, therefore, help to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Another nutrient that has been found to support good oral health is co-enzyme Q10. Co-Q10 occurs naturally in foods like pork, sardines and peanuts in small quantities. It can also be taken as a supplement. 30-90mg per day is suggested for maintaining oral health. In a true food form, it is assimilated more easily and therefore less is required.
Finally, other foods that you might want to consider consuming more of include: green tea, aloe vera juice, cranberries and the essential fatty acids GLA, found in nuts and seeds, and DHA, from fish and their oils. Eating less red meat and dairy foods, because of the high arachidonic acid content which promotes inflammation, may also encourage healthier teeth and gums.