Reprinted with permission of Life Extension®.
- Link to Heart Disease
- Oral Hygiene and Proper Dental Care
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums usually caused by plaque buildup that is the result of inadequate brushing and flossing, causing the gums to become inflamed, swollen, and to bleed easily. If gingivitis is not treated, tooth loss can occur. Plaque, a soft, sticky film primarily made up of bacteria, will harden after 72 hours into tartar, which can't be removed by brushing or flossing. This is why the best defense against gingivitis is brushing and flossing after meals, as well as professional cleaning by a dental hygienist every 3-4 months depending upon the individual tendency to build up plaque.
Plaque buildup occurs between the teeth and gums, in faulty fillings, and around the teeth near poorly cleaned partial dentures, bridges, and braces. Even though the main cause of gingivitis is plaque buildup, there are other causes for the disease. Birth control pills, cyclosporine (taken by people who have had organ transplants), and nifedipine (taken to control blood pressure and disturbances in the heart rhythms) are just a few of the medications that can cause gingivitis. Vitamin C and niacin deficiencies can also result in gingivitis.The Link Between Gingivitis and Heart Disease
Researchers may now have a better understanding of why some studies link gum disease with an increased risk of heart disease. Gum disease, in which bleeding of the gums occurs, is characterized by gingivitis, inflammation, and bone deterioration and is primarily caused by bacteria. People with gum disease have been found to have a 25% increased risk for heart disease as opposed to those with healthy gums, but the cause of such a link evaded researchers.
According to a study reported by Wu et al. (2000), those who have gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, are also likely to have elevated blood levels of fibrinogen (clotting factor) and C-reactive protein (CRP) (an inflammatory molecule). Dr. Wu and colleagues also reported that gum disease may also be related to higher cholesterol levels.
In a study of more than 10,000 adults ages 17 and over, the link between cholesterol and gum disease was weaker than for fibrinogen and CRP. The authors concluded, however, that all three factors, that is, fibrinogen, CRP, and cholesterol, may contribute to an increased risk of heart disease (Wu et al. 2000).
This latest study suggests that periodontal disease might be responsible for bacteria's entry into or contact with the bloodstream, which could affect blood fats and clotting factors. According to the authors, the study may help explain the potential link between gum disease and an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (Wu et al. 2000).Oral Hygiene and Proper Dental Care
If gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to periodontal disease, which affects the gum tissue, bone, and the supporting tissues of the teeth. The warning signs of the disease are a bad taste in the mouth, bad breath, red or swollen gums, tender gums, bleeding gums, loose teeth, sensitive teeth, pain when chewing, pus around teeth and gums, and brown, hard deposits, called calculus, on the surface of the teeth. The best treatment for gingivitis is prevention with good dental hygiene as described above.
It's best to start instilling good oral hygiene in a child as early as infancy. Before the teeth start to erupt, an infant's gums should be thoroughly cleaned after each feeding with a water-soaked washcloth to stimulate the gum tissue and remove food. When the baby's teeth begin to erupt, the teeth should be brushed gently with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush using a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste. At the age of 2 or 3, the child can be taught the proper brushing techniques. Because the child doesn't have the dexterity to do it alone, the parent should follow it up with brushing and gentle flossing until the age of 8. The child should start seeing a dentist at about the age of 1, so the primary teeth can be checked for cavities and any other problems.
Studies show that adolescents should exercise proper oral hygiene care at home because three-quarters of all children ages 13-17 have gums that bleed (Ostberg et al. 2001). Teens should brush thoroughly after all meals and floss daily. Choosing a proper diet should help maintain and preserve their teeth. For those teens who wear braces, special attention should be paid to keeping the spaces between the teeth and archwires clean by using floss threaders.
Adults should practice good oral hygiene and see the dentist every 6 months because periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss. These regular visits are usually painless, and the dentist will be able to detect any periodontal disease an adult may have in the early stages.
Seniors can suffer from a wide range of problems, including root decay. Older people who suffer from arthritis should adapt their toothbrush for easy use, for example, by enlarging the handle. This can be done by inserting the handle into a rubber ball, inserting it into a sponge hair curler, or gluing it into a bicycle grip. Studies confirm that electric toothbrushes are excellent at removing plaque and effective in stimulating the gums (Ho et al. 1997).Supplemental Care for Healthier Teeth and Gums
Coenzyme Q10 and Periodontal Disease
- Coenzyme Q10
- Folic Acid
- Green Tea
- Aloe Vera
- Vitamin K1
- Herbal Protection
- Comprehensive Treatment
Coenzyme Q10, a vital nutrient needed by every cell in the body to make energy, has been shown to be beneficial for a variety of diseases and disorders including periodontal disease, congestive heart failure, angina pectoris, certain immune disorders, and even cancer. The role of CoQ10 in cellular energy production begins in the mitochondria. Because it is fat soluble, CoQ10 can penetrate the cell membrane, acting as the messenger link between the various enzymes in the electron transport chain. Optimal levels of CoQ10 must be present in the cell membrane for energy to be produced. No other substance can substitute for CoQ10.
In addition to energy production, CoQ10 plays a vital role as an antioxidant at the cellular level, having the ability to neutralize the effect of free radicals that damage cell membranes and lead to disease states and aging. As early as the 1970s, researchers found that gum tissue in people with periodontal disease was often deficient in CoQ10 (Nakamura et al. 1974; Hansen et al. 1976). Subsequent studies have shown deterioration of the gums to be halted and healing to occur sometimes within days at dosages of 50-75 mg a day.
Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., clinical cardiologist and author, reports that many of his patients see improvement in their gum health after they begin CoQ10 supplementation for heart disease. According to research by Sinatra (1998), CoQ10's supportive effects of the immune system in general account for its ability to promote healing in diseased gums. Zeinnes (2000), a holistic dentist and author, recommends 100 mg a day of CoQ10 in combination with other supplements to help reverse gum disease naturally.Calcium Intake for Healthy Gums
A study by Nishida et al. (2000) found that those who do not consume adequate amounts of calcium each day are at significantly higher risk for periodontal disease. According to the American Dietetic Association, three out of four people do not meet their daily need of calcium. The study showed that men and women who had low calcium intakes (below the recommended dietary allowance) were almost twice as likely to have periodontal disease, as measured by the loss of attachment of the gums from the teeth. Other research has linked osteoporosis with tooth loss.Folic Acid Protects Gums
A number of studies are demonstrating folic acid to be highly effective in preserving gum tissue and reducing the possibility of gingivitis and periodontitis (Stein et al. 1973). Although the benefits of swallowing folic acid supplements to protect against heart disease and birth defects have been well-documented, new evidence suggests that using folic acid topically, as a mouthwash, can strengthen one's oral defenses. Studies have demonstrated folic acid's ability to improve gingivitis symptoms and reduce gum tissue's inflammatory response, as well as making it more resilient to irritants, such as bacteria and plaque (Anon. 1987).
Folic acid has been clinically tested in mouthwash solutions to assess its benefit in treating gingivitis. One study showed that after 4 weeks of using a folic acid mouthwash, significant improvement occurred compared to placebo. In this controlled study involving 60 patients, dietary folic acid intake did not correlate with treatment results, suggesting the importance of applying folic acid topically to the gums (Pack 1984).
In a double-blind study on 30 pregnant women, the effects of folic acid mouthwash, folic acid tablets, and placebo were evaluated. After 28 days, folate serum levels increased significantly in both groups receiving folic acid, but only the group receiving the folic acid mouthwash showed a highly significant improvement in a Gingival Index. There were no significant changes in the Plaque Index (Thomson et al. 1982).
In another study, 30 patients with normal blood folate levels were studied in a clinical setting. One group rinsed their mouths daily with a folate solution and the other used a placebo mouth rinse. After 60 days, the group receiving the folic acid rinse showed significant improvement in gingival health compared to the placebo group (Vogel et al. 1978).
An experimental study on contraceptive users with normal plasma folate levels demonstrated improved gingival health after receiving supplementation with topical folic acid for 60 days (Vogel et al. 1980; 1987). A double-blind study was conducted on 30 patients comparing supplementation with 4000 mcg of ingested folic acid to placebo. After 1 month, based on plaque and gingival indices, folic acid supplementation appeared to increase the resistance of the gingiva to local irritants, leading to a reduction in inflammation (Vogel et al. 1976).Green Tea Kills Oral Bacteria
Green tea extract is known to pack a strong antioxidant cocktail made up of polyphenolic compounds called catechins. Two in particular, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and epicatechin gallate (ECG), have been shown to combat oral plaque and bacteria (Horiba et al. 1991; Otake et al. 1991; Rasheed et al. 1998). These green tea polyphenols work as antiplaque agents by suppressing glucosyl transferase, which oral bacteria uses to feed on sugar. Other research has demonstrated that green tea extract can kill oral bacteria and inhibit collagenase activity. Collagenase is a natural enzyme that becomes overactive in the presence of bacterial overgrowth, and it can destroy healthy collagen in gum tissue.
Green tea extract was shown to topically inhibit concentrations of Streptococcus mutans bacteria, which have been implicated in the development of dental caries (the decay and breaking down of teeth and their bone support). The scientists suggested that certain extracts from green tea might be especially helpful in preventing tooth decay by preventing the development of bacterial plaque (Hattori et al. 1990). In a Chinese study, green tea extract was used to rinse and brush the teeth. The study demonstrated that S. mutans could be inhibited completely after contact with green tea extract for 5 minutes. There was no drug resistance after repeat cultures (You 1993). The clinical effects showed that the Plaque Index and Gingival Index decreased significantly after green tea extract was used to rinse and brush the teeth (Tsuchiya et al. 1997). The scientists concluded that green tea extract is an effective agent to prevent dental caries (You 1993).Aloe Vera Promotes Healing
Emerging evidence about aloe vera gel says that it may enhance wound healing by increasing collagen turnover, namely, synthesis and degradation and cross-linking of newly formed collagen (Chithra et al. 1998a; b). It also has significant anti-inflammatory activity, blocking certain integrins (proteins) that would otherwise assist defensive cells such as blood neutrophils to create tissue damage (Vazquez et al. 1996).Bone-Building Vitamin K1
Vitamin K1 controls excessive gum bleeding and reduces inflammation. It's also important for maintaining the integrity of teeth and the supporting bone structure in its capacity to regulate and channel calcium into bones and teeth. Tea tree oil, used as an oral rinse, has been proven to kill bacteria (Kulik et al. 2000). In fact, research has shown that a tea tree oil concentration of 0.6% inhibited 14 of 15 oral types of bacteria.Herbal Protection
Bee propolis, often called nature's penicillin, has historically been used to treat tuberculosis, ulcers, mitosis, and colitis and to boost immunity. It has been shown to destroy bacteria, viruses, fungus, and even penicillin-resistant bacteria (staphylococcus). It contains bioflavonoids, one of which (galangin) is a natural antibiotic (Bankova et al. 1999). In addition, propolis boosts immune functioning, specifically by increasing the activity of phagocytes (killer cells). Propolis also inhibits prostaglandin production, thereby stopping inflammation (Khayyal et al. 1993; Mirzoeva et al. 1996).
Camu-camu, a shrub from the Amazon rainforest, is revered for its rich supply of vitamin C (30 times more than the amount found in X), which aids in circulation, fortifying blood vessel walls and regenerating tissue. Moreover, camu-camu has astringent, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties (Visentainer et al. 1997; Justi et al. 2000).
Both gotu kola and vitamin E help to heal wounds and promote connective tissue growth, as well as fight free radicals. The echinacea/chapparral/Pau D'Arco trio make up an antibacterial team that also tames inflamed gums. Goldenseal is another medicinal plant that boosts immune function (Rehman et al. 1999). Myrrh oil boasts antibacterial and antifungal properties and is also known to tighten gums and ward off pyorrhea (Dolara et al. 2000).
Chamomile is a mild antimicrobial (Aggag et al. 1972), as is red thyme oil. Finally, ingredients such as parsley, spearmint, menthol, and eucalyptus are stimulating to the gums, as well as refreshing and cooling for the mouth in general (Sato et al. 1998).
Peelu, an extract of the Peelu tree, is found in Asian and Middle Eastern countries and has been used for centuries for complete dental hygiene. Peelu is 100% nonabrasive and is made up of vegetable fibers that whiten, clean, and protect teeth and gums.Comprehensive Treatment
Proper oral hygiene is required for the relief of gingivitis. Vitamin supplements, coenzyme Q10, and green tea can also alleviate the symptoms.
The standard dose of Life Extension Mix (3 tablets 3 times a day) can improve the health of your gums. Life Extension Mix provides more than 2500 mg of vitamin C. Also, coenzyme Q10 in oil-filled capsules should be taken in daily doses of 100-200 mg. Green tea beverages provide direct bacteria-killing, plaque-inhibiting effects for the gums. Standardized green tea capsules can be used to help deliver gingiva-protecting nutrients.
For people suffering from chronic gingivitis, the regular use of Life Extension Mouthwash provides nutrients shown to be of benefit topically for the health of your gums. One study showed that zinc and folic acid can inhibit gingivitis, and Life Extension Mouthwash contains the identical amount of zinc and folic acid used in this study. Life Extension Mouthwash also contains a chlorophyll extract, sanguinaria extract, vitamin E, aloe vera, and caprylic acid. All contribute to the health and healing of the gums via different mechanisms.
MistOral II, formulated by the creator of the original MistOral, Donald Joseph Carter, Ph.D., is an oral spray containing a mix of 35% food-grade hydrogen peroxide solution (a commonly used antibacterial) and a number of natural antimicrobials. One of MistOral II's proven ingredients is folic acid.
In addition, MistOral II contains a host of other antioxidants, one of which is alpha-lipoic acid. Known as a powerful metabolic antioxidant, it fuels and preserves other antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, raises levels of detoxifying glutathione (Khmelevskii et al. 1995). Further, alpha-lipoic acid itself is great for clearing the body of toxic metals. It also boasts a small molecular size that allows it to penetrate the cell membranes of gum tissue easily to maximize antioxidant activity.
There are also toothpastes that contain CoQ10, folic acid, antibacterials, and antioxidants shown to benefit the gums.SUMMARY
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums in which the gums get red and swollen and bleed easily. Plaque buildup along the gum line of the teeth is the usual cause of gingivitis. Simple gingivitis can be prevented with the daily use of a toothbrush and dental floss and with visits to the dentist every 3-6 months. If left untreated, gingivitis can cause periodontal disease and tooth loss. The following supplements can help alleviate gingivitis:
- Life Extension toothpaste to provide CoQ10, folic acid, and other nutrients directly to the gums
- Coenzyme Q10, a daily dose of 100-200mg
- Life Extension Mix, 3 tablets 3 times a day
- Green tea to kill bacteria and inhibit plaque
- Life Extension Mouthwash for health and healing of the gums
- MistOral II, twice a day after brushing and carried on person when away from home
In his book, Zeinnes (2000) recommends the following supplement regimen to naturally reverse gum disease (p. 63):
- Vitamin C, 2-4 grams a day (taken as 500 mg every few hours)
- Calcium, 800 mg a day, and magnesium, 600 mg a day, in a combination formula
- Vitamin E, 200-400 IU a day
- Zinc picolinate, 30 mg a day
- Beta-carotene complex, 2500 IU a day
- Coenzyme Q10, 100 mg a day
- Vitamin B complex, 15-25 mg a day
- Multivitamin/mineral, 1 a day
- Chlorella, 1 capsule a day
- Cilantro (Chinese parsley)
- Flaxseed oil, up to 2 tbsp a day
- Garlic extract, 120-2400 mg in 2 divided doses a day
- Glutathione, 150 mg in 3 divided doses a day
For more information, contact the American Dental Association, Department of Public Education and Information, 211 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.
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