Bleeding gums could be a sign of a diet too low in vitamin C, researchers suggest in a new study. They urge people who are prone to bleeding gums to see their dentist but also to watch their vitamin C intake.
Bleeding gums are one of the symptoms of sensitive gums, inflammation or gum disease, or even periodontitis. People who are prone to bleeding gums, especially when brushing their teeth or biting off raw fruit, are usually advised to see their dentist immediately.
In a new study published Feb. 1 in the journal Nutrition Reviews, US researchers suggest that dietary intake of vitamin C should also be considered, as bleeding gums can be a sign of a deficiency.
“If you see that your gums are bleeding, the first thing you should do is not say to yourself, ‘I should brush more.’ You should try to figure out why your gums are bleeding. And vitamin C deficiency is one of the possible reasons,” comments Philippe Hujoel, M.D., first author of the study, a dentist and professor of oral health sciences at the University of Washington School of Dentistry.
The study is actually a meta-analysis of 15 clinical trials in six different countries with 1,140 participants that examined the trend of bleeding gums. It also includes data from 8,210 U.S. residents surveyed as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
A call to monitor dietary vitamin C intake in addition to oral recommendations
The study showed that gums that have a tendency to bleed were associated with low levels of vitamin C in the blood. Increasing the daily vitamin C intake of those affected helped reduce these bleeding problems.
There is also evidence that dietary recommendations for vitamin C, which are primarily intended to protect against scurvy, are too low and that this low vitamin C intake can lead to a bleeding tendency. Specifically, the team believes that a bleeding tendency in the gums and retina could be a sign of a general disorder in the microvascular system, as well as a bleeding tendency in the brain, heart, and kidneys.
It is recommended that people with bleeding gums regularly monitor their daily vitamin C intake and include vitamin C-rich foods such as cabbage, red peppers, oranges, and kiwi in their diet. Supplementation can also be considered at 100 to 200 mg per day if blood levels are really low or if you can’t or won’t change your dietary habits. The research team points out that some diets neglect certain vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables such as kiwi and oranges.