Antioxidants have long been known to benefit overall health by fighting signs of premature aging as well as degenerative diseases. But now, research affirms the positive effects of antioxidants on oral health as well — especially as it relates to the onset of periodontal (gum) disease.
Antioxidants are natural compounds that fight free radicals — unstable molecules that damage tissue cells by “stealing” electrons from other molecules. It’s natural for the body to produce these free radicals, but when they go unchecked by antioxidants, they become harmful. We are also exposed to free radicals in everyday life through sunlight, pollution, food additives, pesticides, herbicides, medications and smoking, among others.
Antioxidants work by supplying damaging free radicals with the electrons they need, thus converting them back to harmless cells. An example of this process can be seen in the kitchen. Take an apple and slice it open. When left out, you can watch the apple tissue turn brown as enzymatic oxidation takes place (free radicals at work); but if you coat the apple in lemon juice (vitamin C, an antioxidant) the browning process is prevented.
How does this affect your teeth and gums, though? Gums are made of living tissue, susceptible to free radical damage like any other tissue in the body. Gums infected and inflamed from a build-up of bacteria are further attacked by free radicals, increasing the risk of tissue damage and even loss.
Dentists and researchers agree that it is in your best interest to increase your intake of antioxidants to help fight gum tissue inflammation. Studies have shown that antioxidants reduce bleeding gums and other signs of periodontal disease.
Thankfully, sources of antioxidants abound: High concentrations are found in dark-colored fruits and vegetables, green tea, dark chocolate and vitamin supplements like C, E, CoQ10. Just a little forethought could help you “radically” improve your overall health, including the health of your smile. So what are you waiting for?
Contact Noble Smile Family and Cosmetic Dentistry today if you have any questions about gum disease or to schedule your next appointment. We look forward to hearing from you.