Best Vitamins for Teeth & Gums
Are you looking for ways to improve your family’s dental health? While there are many different products on the market, some vitamins and minerals are more essential for healthy teeth than others. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the best vitamins for teeth and gums and how they can benefit your family’s oral health.
Overview of common teeth problems and gum issues
Many aspects of our modern lifestyles tend to have negative impacts on our teeth. Factors such as frequent snacking on sweetened foods, consuming sugary drinks, smoking, and poor brushing habits can lead to a variety of dental problems.
A fact sheet produced by the World Health Organization tells us that a staggering 3.5 billion people across the world are affected by oral diseases. And among all those people, the disease most commonly experienced is dental caries (also known as tooth decay or cavities).
Tooth decay happens when the teeth become coated in a layer of plaque, formed by bacteria, food, and acid. If there is not enough exposure to fluoride and the plaque is not brushed away properly, the acid starts to eat away at the enamel of your teeth, eventually reaching the dentin underneath.
Over time, this can cause the formation of holes and may ultimately lead to infection and tooth loss.
Poor dental health can result in other problems, too.
If plaque is not regularly removed from the teeth, it will accumulate and harden, eventually migrating down the length of the tooth. This can cause your gum tissue to become inflamed – a condition known as gingivitis.
If not treated, this extra inflammation can cause your gums to start to pull away from your teeth. This process causes little pockets to form, in which bacteria can begin to accumulate. This leads to a more advanced type of gum inflammation known as periodontitis.
Another common problem is tooth sensitivity, also known as dentin hypersensitivity. This can cause pain or discomfort when consuming hot or cold food or drinks. In people with thin tooth enamel, sensitivity can occur naturally. But sometimes it is a sign of gum disease or receding gums.
Regular dental checkups should catch most types of oral disease early so that they can be treated. But if you start experiencing any unusual problems before your check-up is due, you should make an earlier appointment.
The symptoms of oral disease include:
- gums that bleed or swell after brushing
- continual bad breath
- persistent ulcers or sore spots in the mouth
- a new sensitivity to hot or cold
- receding gums
- frequent dry mouth
- swollen cheek or face
Best Vitamins for Teeth
One way in which you can protect yourself against developing tooth decay or other oral diseases is by consuming a healthy diet providing a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
But there are some vitamins that are particularly helpful in maintaining good dental health including healthy gums. Let’s review them including how to get these vitamins from real foods as well as supplements when necessary.
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A may be one of the most beneficial vitamins for dental health and strong teeth! There are a few different reasons for this.
The enamel covering your teeth contains a protein called keratin, which needs vitamin A for its formation. Studies have shown that a deficiency of vitamin A may be connected to enamel hypoplasia (a developmental defect that results in thin enamel) and impaired tooth formation.
Secondly, vitamin A helps with saliva production. This is important because an adequate flow of saliva prevents dry mouth (a common cause of dental problems) and washes harmful acids off the teeth.
Vitamin A also supports the production of the oral mucous that coats our cheeks and gums, protecting them from disease and infection.
What to eat: Foods rich in beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) tend to be orange in color, which makes them easy to identify! Things like sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, and cantaloupe are all good sources of beta-carotene which gets converted to the active form of vitamin A. To consume vitamin A directly, you need to consume animal foods. High levels can also be found in egg yolks and oily fish.
Recommended vitamin A supplement:
2. B vitamins
Research has shown that people with poor gum health and periodontal disease tend to have lower levels of certain B vitamins, including folate.
This study in particular demonstrated a clear link between low folate levels and the development of periodontal disease in older adults.
Excessive gum bleeding during dental exams has also been noted in patients who only consume low levels of folates.
What’s more, there is evidence that the severity of periodontal disease in adults is influenced by how much of the B vitamins folate and thiamine they consume, and that vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to gum problems in children.
B vitamins are one of our body’s most important vitamins and are important for overall health.
What to eat: Good sources of B vitamins include leafy greens, salmon, liver, eggs, shellfish, legumes (such as beans, peas, and lentils), poultry, fortified cereal, sunflower seeds, and nutritional or brewer’s yeast. A balanced diet will provide good sources of B vitamins, but dietary supplements may also be necessary.
Recommended vitamin B supplement:
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E contains two compounds called tocopherols and tocotrienols, both of which are antioxidants with excellent anti-inflammatory properties.
Although research is still ongoing, it is believed that vitamin E’s ability to prevent inflammation might be useful in controlling periodontal disease, which is inflammatory in nature. This theory is backed up by a 2007 study which showed that epilepsy patients with periodontal disease had extremely low levels of vitamin E in their mouths and saliva.
Vitamin E plays a critical role in gum and oral health.
What to eat: The best sources of tocopherols are wheat germ oil, sunflower, and safflower oils. Vitamin E can also be found in nuts (particularly almonds), shellfish, broccoli, tofu, spinach, and wheat.
Recommended vitamin E supplement:
4. Vitamin K
Vitamin K acts as a calcium-binder and is believed to help fortify the teeth. It is a fat-soluble nutrient that your body absorbs with the fats in your diet and stores in your body’s fatty tissues.
It comes in two forms – vitamin K1 (the chemical compound phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (the chemical compound menaquinone).
Vitamin K2 seems to be of particular interest when it comes to your teeth! It hasn’t yet been studied enough, but there are suggestions by experts that it can help prevent dental caries by remineralizing the teeth and boosting the body’s immune response.
Vitamin K helps with the absorption of calcium and calcium supplements and is good for healthy bones.
What to eat: Vitamin K2 can be found in eggs, poultry, pork, natto (fermented soybeans), and certain cheeses (especially blue cheese, gouda, and swiss).
Recommended vitamin K supplement:
5. Vitamin C
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a strong antioxidant. It is needed for the repair of bodily tissues and to support the function of the immune system, helping heal our gums and preventing inflammation.
Because it plays such an important part in the creation of collagen, it is also essential in the formation of dentin in the teeth, along with the connective tissues of the mouth.
One of the symptoms of low vitamin C levels is bleeding gums.
History tells us that without access to vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables centuries ago, sailors would get a disease called scurvy, with bruised and bleeding gums being among the most important signs. And current research shows that adequate levels of vitamin C reduce the risk of periodontal disease.
What to eat: Citrus fruits, orange juice, red pepper, tomato, kiwifruit, sweet potatoes, broccoli, strawberries, and cantaloupe are all good sources of vitamin C. Since some of these are very acidic, it is a good idea to rinse your mouth with water after eating them.
Recommended vitamin C supplement:
6. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is very important to your dental health as it helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus from food. It then carries and deposits them in the bones supporting your teeth and increases their mineral density. This makes them much stronger and less likely to fracture or decay.
Vitamin D also helps support your body’s immune system, preventing inflammation and helping your gums stay healthier.
It is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin’” because your body can produce its own vitamin D if you spend a short amount of time in the sunshine each day.
However, vitamin D deficiency is quite common – particularly in climates where regular sun exposure is a challenge – and doctors often prescribe routine vitamin D supplementation to overcome this and to make sure you get enough vitamin D.
What to eat: Vitamin D can be found in fortified foods (like cereal and dairy products), egg yolks, cheese, fatty fish (like mackerel and salmon), and red meat.
Recommended vitamin D supplement:
7. Coenzyme q10
This is a nutrient that occurs naturally in the body and acts as an antioxidant, protecting the cells from damage. Research has shown that it can be useful in reducing gum disease.
It is found naturally in some foods, although many people prefer to take it as a supplement because the levels in foods are quite low.
What to eat: Coenzyme q10 can be found in meats, vegetable oils, and cold-water fish such as sardines, tuna, mackerel, and salmon.
Recommended vitamin E supplement:
A naturally occurring mineral found in many foods and water, fluoride can help make your tooth enamel stronger, fortifying your teeth against acid and cavities.
It is also believed to help reverse early decay and is especially important for children as it assists with the development of permanent teeth.
It comes in lots of different forms. The most common way we get fluoride is from fluoridated toothpaste and mouth rinses. Those available over the counter are fairly low in strength – a prescription from a doctor or dentist is needed for stronger concentrations.
Fluoride is sometimes applied to your teeth by a dentist following treatment. This will be a much stronger dose than contained in your toothpaste and is usually applied as a gel or varnish.
You can also get fluoride supplements, although – again – these must be prescribed by a doctor or dentist.
You may have heard that there are risks involved in using fluoride. However, fluoride is only hazardous when too much is used. This is why it is important to supervise children when they are brushing their teeth, as they only need a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. This also explains why high-strength fluoride products are only available with a prescription.
Learn more about the pros and cons of fluoridation.
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Healthy teeth are not just important from a cosmetic point of view. Research looking at the connection between oral inflammation and serious health issues concluded that good dental health is important for maintaining good general health too!
Cutting down on sugar, brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and eating a nutritious diet providing the vitamins listed in this guide will help you maintain good oral health and smile with confidence!
Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.
About the Author: Carrie Forrest has a master’s degree in public health with a specialty in nutrition. She is a top wellness and food blogger with over 10 million annual visitors to her site. Carrie has an incredible story of recovery from chronic illness and is passionate about helping other women transform their health. Send Carrie a message through her contact form.