Periodontal disease refers to any infection of the tissues that support the teeth. It begins just below the gum line, where it causes the tooth attachment and the gums to break down. This type of disease is classified according to its severity, of which there are two major stages – gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis, which affects only the gums, is a milder and reversible form of the disease. Left untreated, it can lead to periodontitis (also called pyorrhea), a more serious, destructive condition that erodes the underlying bone and leads to tooth loss. Periodontal disease is also a major risk factor for heart disease. In the United States, over 75 percent of adults over age thirty-five have some degree of periodontal disease.
Poor nutrition and inadequate oral hygiene are key factors in the development of periodontal disease. Other factors that can increase its risk include excessive alcohol and sugar consumption, tobacco chewing or smoking, and a number of medications, including certain cancer therapy drugs, steroids, and oral contraceptives. Individuals with systemic diseases such as diabetes are also at greater risk.
Although there are several signs that can signal a possible periodontal problem – gums that are red, swollen, and tender; persistent bad breath; gums that bleed easily; permanent teeth that begin to separate or loosen; and gums that have receded from the teeth – it is possible to experience no warning signs at all! This is one reason that regular dental checkups are so important. Of course good daily hygiene, which includes brushing and flossing, is essential as well.
Supplements to treat periodontal disease
• Calcium – although most people are deficient in calcium, there is a danger in taking too much calcium. Do not ingest more than 1,000 to 2,000 mg of calcium a day.
• Coenzyme Q10 – available at compounding pharmacies as a prescription paste to brush on gums or can be swallowed as supplement.
• Copper – your copper-to-zinc ratio is very important for your health. Also, do not take copper supplement cupric oxide, which has a very low bioavailability.
• EPA/DHA (fish oil)
• Vitamin A and mixed carotenoids – do not take for extended periods of time. Do not take more than 8,000 IU a day if you have liver disease, are a smoker, or are exposed to asbestos.
• Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) – do not take more than 500 mg a day. If you are taking L-dopa for Parkinson’s disease, do not take B6 without first consulting your doctor.
• Vitamin B9 (folic acid) – high doses can deplete your body of other vitamins in the B complex.
• Vitamin C – do not take high dosages if you are prone to kidney stones or gout.
• Vitamin E