Bleeding gums have long been thought to be a sign of gingivitis (a mild form of gum disease) caused by a buildup of plaque at your gum line. If you’ve ever experienced this, then you were probably told you need to brush and floss more often. But a new study has found another possible cause – a vitamin C deficiency. The study published in Nutrition Reviews, analyzed 15 clinical trial in 6 countries, and data was collected from 8,210 U.S residents surveyed in CDC’s Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The results found that bleeding gums (as well as retinal hemorrhaging) were associated with low vitamin C levels in the bloodstream. It was found that increasing daily intake of vitamin C in those with low vitamin C plasma levels helped to reverse these bleeding issues. The lead author of the study stressed that vitamin C recommendations (designed to primarily protect against scurvy) are too low, and that such a low vitamin C intake can lead to a bleeding tendency (which should not be treated with dental floss). He recommended people keep an eye on their vitamin C intake through incorporation of foods such as kale, peppers or kiwis, and if not, to consider a supplement of about 100 to 200 milligrams a day. Additionally, he goes on to say, that if someone is on a specialized diet, such as a paleo or low carb diet, it’s important that they take a look at their vitamin C intake, since “vitamin C-rich fruits such as kiwis or oranges are rich in sugar and thus typically eliminated from a low-carb diet.” This may lead to a vitamin C intake that is too low and is associated with increased bleeding. Unfortunately, this is also associated with retinal hemorrhaging and cerebral strokes so low levels of vitamin C has the potential to have serious health consequences. Other vitamins and minerals important for teeth and gum health include calcium, vitamin D, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin K and vitamin A.
(1) 7 Vitamins and Minerals Your Mouth Needs.” 7 Vitamins and Minerals Your Mouth Needs – Delta Dental, www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/vitamins-and-minerals.html.
(2) Hujoel, Philippe P, et al. “Bleeding Tendency and Ascorbic Acid Requirements: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials.” Nutrition Reviews, 2021, doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuaa115.
(3) Pussinen, Pirkko J., et al. “Periodontitis Is Associated with a Low Concentration of Vitamin C in Plasma.” Clinical Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology, vol. 10, no. 5, 2003, pp. 897–902., doi:10.1128/cdli.10.5.897-902.2003.
(4) What Diseases Could Cause My Gums to Bleed?” WebMD, WebMD, 4 Dec. 2020, www.webmd.com/oral-health/bleeding-gums-other-conditions#1.