Periodontal disease has long been known to be caused by the toxic waste production by oral bacteria. The body’s response to this production is through the inflammatory process which can lead to destruction of connective tissues as well as deterioration of the bone that supports the teeth. Periodontal disease is progressive and can eventually lead to complete tooth loss and serious infections. Can Vitamin D supplements help?
Stages Of Periodontal Disease
-Gingivitis – This is the earliest stage of periodontal disease. This is the most mild form of periodontal disease. Symptoms include red, swollen (or puffy) and inflamed gums due to plaque-bacteria build-up. The gums may also bleed easily during brushing or eating of hard foods. During the earliest of stages the periodontal disease process it can be reversed thru proper brushing, flossing and professional dental care to remove the excess bacterial plaque. If the required oral hygiene does not occur, the periodontal disease then progresses to the next stage. The majority of people with this early form of periodontal disease, do not even know a dental problem exists. This is a crucial period for the patient, as the condition can be reversed (since the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place have not yet been affected) at this point if it is recognized and properly treated.
-Periodontitis - As the periodontal disease progresses it will become harder to treat and control. The difference between gingivitis and periodontitis is that gingivitis only infects the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth while the periodontal disease process also invades the bone that provides support and stability for the teeth. The bacteria eventually invades past the initial the gum line area and destruction begins to the point that gums may begin to separate or pull away from the teeth (taking away support and connective fibers with it). What results are called periodontal pockets. These pockets allow for bacteria to invade below the gum line. They eventually become loaded with toxic plaque and bacteria that moves and works its way deeper. It begins to erode the bone below the gum line. A patient’s bite will be affected (as the teeth shift or loosen) by the lost support which then affects chewing and other functions.
-Advanced Periodontitis - As the periodontal disease process advances, the fibers and bone that provide support for the teeth is destroyed. At least half of the bone support (if not more) will have broken down at this late stage of periodontal disease. It does not grow back naturally. Teeth may begin to loosen. Deep root cleanings and surgical intervention are typical at this stage. This may include cleaning with a periodontal microscope, (Perioscope), grafting of tissue, bone, placement of growth factors, (Emdogain), periodontal antibiotic regimen (Periostat), placement of antibiotics directly into pockets, (Arestin), open flap surgery, and, possibly tooth removal.
Vitamin D Research And Periodontal Disease
A well balanced diet can enhance your immune system to allow the body to fend off any attack more efficiently. Recent research shows Vitamin D might be helpful in controlling the inflammation associated with gingivitis and even periodontitis.
The research consisted of following 88 patients in a random trial. These patients were followed over a 3 month and were broken into 4 groups. Each group received a different dose of Vitamin D. They received either 2,000 IU/day, 1,000 IU/day, 500 IU/day, or a placebo containing 0Vitamin D. Every 30 days the subjects were seen for a blood draw to determine Vitamin D levels and a gingival index.
The blood levels were as expected with elevations based on dosage. However, the patients receiving the higher dose of Vitamin D showed less gingival inflammation than the others. This leads researchers to believe that Vitamin D will have an effect on controlling periodontal disease.
While the study was quite limited and short term, it does lead us to believe that long term use of Vitamin D can help control periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can be controlled and this may lead to another tool for the patient and dentist to control the progression of the disease. As always, remember to see your dentist regularly for examinations and professional cleanings. Maintaing good oral health is important for your whole body and not just your teeth and gums.