People know that vitamin C is an essential vitamin that is beneficial for a number of reasons, and boosting immunity is one of the major ones. But a recent study has also shown that low levels of vitamin C within the bloodstream could also be the underlying cause of bleeding gums. Moreover, researchers have also shared that flossing and brushing might be inadequate at reversing the negative effects of this oral health issue.
Normally, bleeding gums tend to be a symptom of other underlying oral health issues that cause periodontal disease like gingivitis. Gingivitis is described as a mild form of gum disease that causes redness, irritation, and inflammation of the gingiva – the portion of your gum situated around the base of your teeth.
When a person is suffering from the early stages of gingivitis, oftentimes their gums swell and bleed. When left untreated, the symptoms only become worse, which can eventually cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, resulting in both tooth and bone loss.
Conventional treatments that can help bleeding gums are usually brushing your teeth more often and making sure to make flossing a part of your daily oral hygiene regimen. Also, treating actual underlying conditions, such as the gingivitis, can also help better deal with this oral hygiene issue.
Other physical disorders have also been linked to increased risk of gingivitis like diabetes and certain immune deficiencies. Also, lifestyle choices such as smoking can also play a major role as well.
But a new study has found that while brushing and flossing the teeth are quite vital for one’s overall oral health, a lack of vitamin C – otherwise called ascorbic acid – could also be a prime cause of bleeding gums. The study’s researchers, who happen to be from the University of Washington in WA, published their results in the journal of Nutrition Reviews.
Here Is the Role of Vitamin C in Oral Health
The study authors took data that included at least 15 clinical trials from six different countries, involving 1,140 participants considered mostly healthy.
The authors also analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey involving 8,210 individuals from the United States that had experienced some sort of eye-related hemorrhaging or bleeding. What the researchers found was that the participants with low vitamin C levels in their bloodstream had higher tendencies for bleeding gums with gentle probing as well as higher rates of bleeding in the eye, which is known as retinal hemorrhaging.
Notably, the authors of the study had also discovered that by increasing vitamin C intake in those participants considered to have a deficiency in vitamin C plasma levels managed to help stop their gums from bleeding, as well as reversing eye-related bleeding problems and conditions.
One of the study’s lead authors and an adjunct professor of oral health sciences at the University of Washington School of Dentistry, Professor Philippe Hujoel, explained that the study’s results were quite significant. This is because ‘the tendency for bleeding gums and retinal hemorrhaging could indicate an issue with the microvascular system.’
The microvascular system covers all the miniscule blood vessels within the body, including those in the heart, brain and kidneys. The results also recommend assessing one’s vitamin C plasma levels in order to check if there are any deficiencies. When the deficiency is found and rectified, there could be a possible reversal of any micro bleeding issues all throughout the body.
But, Professor Hujoel pointed out that despite the study’s findings, they did not indicate any direct relationship ‘between increasing vitamin C levels and preventing strokes or other microvascular-related conditions.’ Rather, the results emphasized that the recommended daily vitamin C intake is designed toward protecting people against scurvy, but that it could be quite inadequate at preventing bleeding gums and other similar microvascular problems.
Again, the study’s results also imply that while increased tooth brushing and flossing are good practices in treating bleeding gums, they aren’t necessarily actions that will get to the root of the problem.
According to Professor Hujoel, “When you see your gums bleed, the first thing you should think about is not, I should brush more. You should try to figure out why your gums are bleeding. And vitamin C deficiency is one possible reason.”
Former research from a Korean study also talks about the connection between vitamin C and bleeding gums. The study was published in PLOS ONE, which found that the participants with inadequate or lacking amounts of vitamin C intake were 1.16 times more likely to have a particular type of gum disease known as periodontitis, than those that took acceptable consumptions of vitamin C.
So Do The Current Vitamin C Recommendations Fall Short?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 90 milligrams (mg) for the average adult male and 75 mg for average adult female. According to Professor Hujoel, those that do not consume enough amounts of vitamin C via their food intake or daily diet should consider using supplements that have between 100 – 200 mg, per day.
He also noted that supplementation is incredibly important for individuals that follow Paleo or other forms of low-carbohydrate diets. This is because most of the foods that are incorporated in the mentioned diets tend to lack enough amounts of this essential vitamin.
Professor Hujoel iterates, “There was a time in the past when gingival bleeding was more generally considered to be a potential marker for a lack of vitamin C. But over time, that’s been drowned out or marginalized by this over-attention to treating the symptom of bleeding with brushing or flossing, rather than treating the cause.”