Periodontal diseases include gingivitis and periodontitis. These infections are serious and can lead to loss of teeth.
Adequate nutrition is an important part of maintaining resistance to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is associated with an increased production of reactive oxygen species, which can damage cells and tissues. Antioxidants such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E buffer these reactive oxygen species.
Deficiencies of vitamin C, folic acid, and zinc appear to increase the permeability of gingival tissues. This makes people more susceptible to bacterial plaque, which precedes periodontal disease. Individuals with low intake of vitamin C and calcium are at increased risk for periodontal disease. Smoking decreases vitamin C stores in the body, and current or former tobacco users with suboptimal vitamin C intake are at especially high risk for developing periodontal disease.
Vitamin C is found in:
Citrus fruits; Tomatoes; Broccoli; Salad greens; Strawberries; Watermelon; Cabbage; Sweet potatoes
Beta-carotene is found in:
Dark-green leafy vegetables; Spinach; Broccoli; Apricots; Cantaloupe;Carrots; Sweet potatoes; Pumpkin; Winter squash
Vitamin E is found in:
Soybean oil; Corn oil; Cottonseed oil; Safflower oil; Wheat germ; Whole grains; Green leafy vegetables; Nuts; Seeds; Corn; Egg yolks; Liver; Olives
Folic acid is found in:
Green leafy vegetables; Brewer’s yeast; Liver; Fortified cereals; Citrus fruits; Beets; Broccoli; Wheat bran; Whole grains; Tomatoes
Zinc is found in:
Oysters; Meat; Shellfish; Poultry; Milk; Milk products; Legumes; Whole grains
Calcium is found in:
Dairy products; Canned fish with the bones; Dark-green leafy vegetables; Broccoli; Cooked dried beans; Dried figs; Almonds; Peas
In addition, tofu, breads, cereals, and orange juice sometimes are fortified with calcium.