Vitamins For Gum Health

  • Suzanna NockBSc (Hons) Immunology and Pharmacology, University of Strathclyde, Scotland
  • Duyen Nguyen MSci Human Biology, University of Birmingham

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Introduction

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, occurs when there is inflammation and infection in your tooth-supporting tissues. It is caused by a build-up of plaque around the teeth and gums. This can cause your gums to become red, swollen, and painful, eventually leading to tooth loss if left unchecked. Gingivitis is the mildest and earliest stage of gum disease and is reported to affect 90% of the global population.1 This condition is treatable and can be reversed with proper treatment and care. However, if left untreated, it may progress into periodontitis, the most severe form of gum disease.

Poor gum health can have a significant impact on your overall health. This is evident where gum disease has been linked with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.2 Smoking and a high-sugar diet have also been associated with gum disease, as they cause your gums to break down and no longer be able to support your teeth. 

To avoid gum disease, regularly brushing and flossing your teeth along with a healthy and balanced lifestyle is recommended. This includes regular exercise, dental check-ups and having a varied diet with lots of vitamins and minerals. Incorporating vitamins (e.g., vitamins C, D, E, K and B) can be beneficial for the health of your gums, as well as your overall health. Many vitamins, including the ones mentioned in this article, have antioxidative properties which can minimise any damage to your gums caused by inflammation. Moreover, it has even been found that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fibre can reduce the damage and inflammation caused by periodontitis.3 Continue reading to find out more about these vitamins and the impact they have on your gums.

Vitamin C

This vitamin is essential for your oral health for many reasons. Vitamin C plays a vital role in collagen synthesis. Collagen is a protein which is found in hair follicles, skin, and gums. This protein is beneficial for growth and elasticity and it gives our tissues strength and integrity. 

Low levels of vitamin C can increase your risk of developing gum disease. This was shown in a study where individuals with severe gum disease were found to have lower levels of vitamin C. This is because vitamin C has antioxidant properties which can help manage inflammation within the mouth and gums, and together with collagen, can prevent any damage caused by gum disease. Moreover, if you are vitamin C deficient, you have an increased risk of developing scurvy, which often presents with swollen, bleeding gums and loosened teeth.4 

For the reasons mentioned above, it is recommended that you include vitamin C in your diet or supplement it with tablets. Sources of vitamin C include:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Kiwi fruit

Care should be taken with fruit juices such as orange juice as they can increase your chances of tooth decay due to their high acidity and sugar content.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is normally obtained through exposure to the sun, however, in winter months it may be hard to get sufficient sun exposure. This is why supplementation or making sure you are adding the right food to your diet is crucial. Deficiency in this vitamin has been linked to gum disease and poor oral health due to the impact vitamin D has on the immune system.

Vitamin D deficiency can increase your chances of developing periodontitis, a type of gum disease which causes significant damage to the gums. Periodontitis is caused by a build-up of plaque on your gums and teeth which can cause the growth of bacteria and trigger an inflammatory response. Inflammation in the gums can affect your whole body and increase your risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.


Vitamin D is reported to have anti-inflammatory properties, which help to reduce inflammation, periodontitis symptoms and pain. Additionally, this vitamin has been shown to decrease the number of harmful bacteria,  allowing you to recover from infection in the gums faster.

Foods which contain vitamin D include:5

  • Oily fish including salmon
  • Cod liver oil 

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a lesser-known vitamin, however, it is very important in the health of your body. It’s involved in the repair process of your body, such as blood clotting, and helps to strengthen your bones. Bleeding gums is a common symptom of gum disease and since vitamin K helps in blood clotting, it can help to prevent your gums from bleeding excessively.

A lack of vitamin K has been found to increase your chances of gum disease along with tooth decay. Vitamin K also has antioxidant properties which will help prevent the overgrowth of bacteria in your mouth which could otherwise lead to gum disease.6

Sources of vitamin K include:

  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Leafy green vegetables

A deficiency in this vitamin isn’t common, however, some prescription drugs may deplete your vitamin K levels. This includes antibiotics which destroy the gut bacteria which help produce vitamin K, and metformin, a medication for people with type 2 diabetes. People in these categories will be advised to take vitamin K supplements to prevent depletion. 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E has been found to decrease inflammation throughout your body including in your gums which helps to reduce the painful effects of gum disease such as swollen, bleeding gums.7 This is due to the vitamin’s powerful antioxidative effects.

Vitamin E has powerful effects on oral health. It can help to re-build your gums after damage from periodontitis which can repair the strength of your gums and help to prevent tooth loss. It is known to reduce inflammation by lowering the production of inflammatory mediators called cytokines (proteins that recruit immune cells). It also prevents the destruction of gum cells caused by periodontitis which can improve gum strength and decrease inflammation, along with stimulating the repair of your gums. Vitamin E does this by recruiting other cells which are used as building blocks for your gums.7

Foods which contain vitamin E include:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Kiwi
  • Avocado

Vitamin B

There are multiple B vitamins such as vitamin B1, biotin, folate, niacin, and vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 cannot be made by your body, unlike other vitamins, which makes deficiencies in vitamin B12 more common– 64% of children in a recent study had lower than normal vitamin B12 levels. However, this vitamin is crucial for your overall health and well-being, including brain function, and oral hygiene. Recent studies have found that those with vitamin B12 deficiencies may have worse oral hygiene.8

Sources of vitamin B12 include:

  • Animal products such as eggs, fish, and meat
  • Small amounts are found in milk and soy products

Vitamin B3, or niacin, has also been found to decrease inflammation and the risk of gum disease.

Vitamin B3 is commonly found in:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Salmon
  • Peanuts
  • Avocados
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato

Due to the common deficiency in this vitamin, supplementation is recommended especially in children as this vitamin is crucial for brain development and provides various benefits in oral hygiene and health.

Summary

Gum disease is associated with other health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and stroke; this highlights the importance of maintaining good gum health and oral hygiene. Periodontitis is the most severe form of gum disease and can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. A healthy diet which includes vitamins and healthy fats, such as omega-3 fats, can reverse the damage caused by periodontitis. Vitamin B12 deficiency is very common but is crucial for gum health and helps to keep gum disease at bay. Vitamin E and K are antioxidants and can destroy any harmful bacteria in your mouth, whilst also reducing inflammation in the gums. Vitamin E can also help rebuild and repair any damage to your gums. Vitamin C promotes antioxidant activity and is vital for collagen synthesis, which enables wound healing and reduces your risk of bleeding gums. Vitamin D is an anti-inflammatory vitamin and can kill harmful bacteria which cause periodontitis.

References

  1. Gasner NS, Schure RS. Periodontal disease. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 [cited 2024 Apr 26]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554590/ 
  2. Kotronia E, Brown H, Papacosta AO, Lennon LT, Weyant RJ, Whincup PH, et al. Oral health and all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory mortality in older people in the UK and USA. Sci Rep [Internet]. 2021 Aug 12 [cited 2024 Apr 26];11:16452. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8361186/ 
  3. Luo P, Xu H, Chen Y, Wu S. Periodontal disease severity is associated with micronutrient intake. Australian Dental Journal [Internet]. 2018 Jun [cited 2024 Apr 26];63(2):193–201. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/adj.12606 
  4. Murererehe J, Uwitonze AM, Nikuze P, Patel J, Razzaque MS. Beneficial effects of vitamin c in maintaining optimal oral health. Front Nutr [Internet]. 2022 Jan 10 [cited 2024 Apr 26];8:805809. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8784414/ 
  5. Botelho J, Machado V, Proença L, Delgado AS, Mendes JJ. Vitamin d deficiency and oral health: a comprehensive review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2020 May 19 [cited 2024 Apr 26];12(5):1471. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7285165/ 
  6. Li J, Lin JC, Wang H, Peterson JW, Furie BC, Furie B, et al. Novel role of vitamin k in preventing oxidative injury to developing oligodendrocytes and neurons. J Neurosci [Internet]. 2003 Jul 2 [cited 2024 Apr 26];23(13):5816–26. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6741273/ 
  7. Behfarnia P, Dadmehr M, Hosseini SN, Mirghaderi SA. The effect of Vitamin E supplementation on treatment of chronic periodontitis. Dent Res J (Isfahan) [Internet]. 2021 Aug 18 [cited 2024 Apr 26];18:62. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8428286/ 
  8. M Hugar S, S Dhariwal N, Majeed A, Badakar C, Gokhale N, Mistry L. Assessment of vitamin b12 and its correlation with dental caries and gingival diseases in 10- to 14-year-old children: a cross-sectional study. Int J Clin Pediatr Dent [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2024 Apr 26];10(2):142–6. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5571382/

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Suzanna Nock

BSc (Hons) Immunology and Pharmacology, University of Strathclyde, Scotland

With a strong interest for science, Suzanna pursued a degree in Immunology and Pharmacology in one of the top universities in Scotland.

During her final year and with the hopes of delving into a career in medical writing, she joined Klarity as an intern where she has elevated her writing skills and increased her range of knowledge within other areas of science and healthcare.

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