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A new meta-analysis published in the BMC Oral Health journal assesses the correlation between vitamin intake and the risk of periodontal (gum) disease. Examining 45 effect groups from 23 observational studies involving an impressive total of 74,488 participants, researchers from China found that higher levels of vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E are associated with a lower likelihood of developing periodontal disease. The researchers say their findings provide new avenues for enhancing awareness regarding the role of vitamin supplements in preventing this common oral health problem.
Summarizing the background to their analysis, the researchers describe how the global number of cases of severe periodontal disease reached a staggering 796 million in 2017. In the United States it is estimated that 42 percent of adults over the age of 30 have periodontitis, with 7.8 percent having the severe form of the disease. Significantly, therefore, and as the researchers point out, periodontal disease not only leads to the destruction of periodontal tissue but also adversely affects overall health and quality of life.
Previous studies have established a strong correlation between periodontal disease and systemic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and others. Based on these findings, the researchers emphasize the importance of maintaining good oral health and addressing periodontal disease in order to safeguard against potential complications.
Discussing the various mechanisms underlying the association between vitamins and periodontal disease, the researchers say that current research in this area mainly focuses on the anti-inflammatory and reparative effects. In terms of periodontal tissue repair and regeneration, the meta-analysis describes how vitamins increase collagen synthesis and promote bone metabolism.
Specific benefits cited by the researchers include the potential of vitamin A to promote periodontal tissue regeneration; the use of vitamin B complex supplements to improve wound healing ability in patients undergoing periodontal surgery; and the role of vitamin D in improving the absorption of calcium and phosphate. The importance of vitamin C is also discussed, including its role in increasing the quantity of collagen fibers and the strength of blood vessels, thereby promoting periodontal tissue regeneration, and the use of vitamin C supplements to improve postoperative healing in patients with chronic periodontitis.
Given the mounting evidence that vitamin supplements can play an important role in the prevention and treatment of periodontal disease, it is unfortunate that most dentists generally pay little attention to nutrition when advising and treating their patients. Instead, the main focus in dentistry today continues to involve cleaning, drilling, and filling teeth. For most patients, therefore, a visit to the dentist is generally not something to look forward to.
In other areas of health, however, it is already clear that nutritional and Cellular Medicine approaches have the potential to revolutionize clinical practice. Looking ahead, therefore, based on the results of this latest meta-analysis, dentistry could perhaps be poised for a similar transformation. If this ultimately results in fewer patients requiring drilling and fillings, dental appointments could even become something to smile about.