Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS February 15, 2016
The short answer is, “No, don’t take antioxidants to stop gum disease.”
Unfortunately, they aren’t what they are cracked up to be. Read what I have written about antioxidants in the past.
“So, why wouldn’t it be helpful to take antioxidants from a bottle to stop gum disease?”
Let’s examine what is really happening in the world of gum disease. My explanation may get a bit scientific, but this is interesting stuff. Try to hang in there.
Gum disease is a result of oxidative stress causing damage in the gum tissues. HERE. Oxidative stress is simply the imbalance between the production of free radicals (biological molecules that have lost an electron) and the ability of the body to neutralize their harmful effects through antioxidants (biological molecules that donate an electron). When there is an abundance of free radicals that are trying to steal electrons from other healthy cells, then there is damage to the body.
“But wait a minute; it sounds like antioxidants are the answer!”
Let me go on.
Recent evidence suggests that antioxidant supplements do not offer sufficient protection against oxidative stress or resulting cellular damage. Real foods contain much more effective antioxidants than those sold in bottles. However, it is becoming more obvious that the human body has mechanisms in place within every cell to create its own natural antioxidants. These are the best antioxidants – the ones that are naturally produced by our body.
The keys to decrease oxidative-stress-induced damage are to reduce or eliminate those things that are causing oxidative stress and to help the body produce its own natural antioxidants.
Oxidative stress to the tissues surrounding a tooth can result from unhealthy bacteria in the dental plaque, from irritation by tartar under the gum tissues, and from toxic chemicals that have damaged individual cells. Oxidative stress also can be caused by a leaky gut, emotional stress, over-exercise, or lack of efficient sleep. The general media would have you believe that antioxidant supplements could take care of the problem. As I have suggested, antioxidants are not what they are cracked up to be.
“So, what’s the answer?”
The solutions to eliminate gum damage from oxidative stress are to eliminate causes of acute infection, to make necessary lifestyle changes, and to incorporate healthy nutrition.
Eliminating acute gum infection includes reducing the damaging bacteria and removing deep tartar causing constant irritation. Lifestyle changes include learning good oral hygiene like proper brushing, flossing, and tongue cleaning. Other lifestyle changes include healing an unhealthy gut, getting enough sleep, engaging in efficient exercise, and reducing overall stress. Healthy nutrition includes eating nutrient-dense foods and avoiding foods that cause inflammation in the body.
My personal experiences as well as my research of peer-reviewed articles have brought me to this way of thinking. We can do so much more for our mouth and our entire body if we removed what was causing the problems and then gave our body what it needed to thrive. The last 2.5 million years of our species’ survival have convinced me.