Why Men Are At Greater Risk of Gum Disease – And What To Do About It

November 8, 2010 by  
Filed under At Home, Health, Mens Health

Though possibly not the sort of sex that immediately springs to mind, it seems that men’s sex hormones may be the biological reason why they are at greater risk than women for a particular kind of gum disease.

Researchers at the University of Maryland Dental School have found that destructive periodontitis, an infection of the gums, is more common in men than women and their gum disease tends to be worse. Periodontitis is a condition in which the gums, deeper supporting tissue, and potentially the bone surrounding teeth become infected and inflamed.

Gum disease starts with plaque, a sticky white substance that coats teeth and which is formed when bacteria in the mouth mixes with saliva and residues from starchy foods and sugar in your diet. If plaque isn’t properly removed by brushing and flossing, it accumulates and hardens underneath the gum line into tartar. Once tartar builds up, it’s much more difficult to remove than plaque and, over time, it can lead to inflamed gums, or gingivitis. This is a mild form of gum disease and one of the most common symptoms is darker red gums that bleed with brushing or flossing.

Until now it has not been certain why men are more susceptible to gum disease, but this research has revealed that it is down to the male sex steroids. These affect the immune system regulation of inflammation, which when not working well leads to the development of infection.

Another competing hypothesis in the dental world for the fact that men are known to suffer more gum disease is the environmental one. Just as men visit doctors less frequently than women, they also don’t go to the dentist as often and apparently are more likely to have worse oral hygiene and compliance with treatment and aftercare than women.

Natural Remedies for Gum Disease:
Apart from good oral hygiene, regular flossing and visits to the dentist, there are some simple things a man can do to guard against future gum disease. Natural helpers are:

1) Vitamin C
Scurvy is something we associate with 18th century sailors, and they got it because their diet was so poor in vitamin C and they had bleeding gums as a result. Today, research indicates that people with low intakes of vitamin C have higher rates of periodontal disease (ie less than 60mg a day). It also helps to prevent gum disease because vitamin C is an antioxidant which is needed to repair connective tissue and accelerate bone regeneration.

Vitamin C rich foods include grapefruit, oranges, kiwi fruit, mango, papaya, strawberry, red pepper, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cantaloupe melon.

2) Vitamin D
Vitamin D has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects and may reduce susceptibility to gum disease. Vitamin D comes from sunlight, so sensible and limited exposure will boost your levels and if you want to take a supplement as part of a multivitamin you would be looking for at least 200 IU.
3) Stress levels
Keeping your stress levels low is healthy for everyone, but particularly here as stress increases plaque accumulation. Vitamins C and B complex are the stress vitamins to boost, so increase your intake and find something that helps you stay relaxed and cut down on stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol.
4) Coenzyme Q10
Low levels have been linked to gum disease and it is essential as coenzyme Q10 is needed to properly repair gum tissue. It is produced naturally in the body and also found in meat and fish.
5) Tea tree oil
Tea tree has so many uses I believe every medicine cabinet should have a bottle but in this particular instance tea tree toothpaste will do the job. It has proven antibiotic properties and a study on people with severe chronic gingivitis who used the toothpaste for 4-8 weeks were found to have a significant reduction in the degree of gingivitis and bleeding.
6) Change your toothbrush
A Dutch study found that the use of electric toothbrushes with oscillating, rotating heads for 3 months reduced gingivitis compared to manual brushing with a regular toothbrush. There was also some reduction in plaque, although it was not statistically significant.

Can your dentist help your arthritis?


If you are one of the half a million people in the UK who have rheumatoid arthritis, and I include myself among them, then going to the Dentist doesn’t usually suggest itself as a cure. However, some new studies published in the Journal of Periodontology show that there is definitely a link between a healthy mouth and a healthy body.

Research by the Case Western Reserve University School in Cleveland USA supports existing reports linking gum disease with arthritic pain and inflammation. Arthritis is definitely inflamed by toxins in the body and tooth decay and gum disease are both natural homes for toxins. They monitored 40 people with moderate or severe periodontitis and severe rheumatoid arthritis to see if dental treatment made any difference to their arthritis. If the subjects had toothache or painful teeth then extracting them seemed to have a positive impact on arthritic pain. It was made even better if the dental treatment was combined with taking anti-inflammatory drugs.

Gum disease no joke
A huge number of us will suffer gum disease at some point in our lives, with some estimates putting it as high as 19 in 20 people. There are significant potential risks as gum disease has been linked to not only arthritis, but heart disease, strokes, diabetes and premature births.

Beat gum disease with a cuppa


Now you know how fond I am of green tea, and actually I have found a new one in my supermarket made by Dr Stuart which combines green tea and rice. Sounds disgusting but actually it sweetens the green tea, and makes it more palatable and as I have just found another good reason for drinking it, I encourage you to try it. A cup of green tea per day may help keep gum disease at bay, a new study suggests.

A report in the Journal of Periodontology says that researchers at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan found that among middle-aged Japanese men, the odds of having gum disease declined as their intake of green tea went up. For each daily cup they drank, the risk of having signs of gum disease – including receding, easily bleeding gums – went down and this may be because green tea has a high concentration of antioxidant compounds called polyphenols. Much gum disease arises from bacterial infection, and lab research suggests that green tea polyphenols can inhibit those germs and the damage they cause. It is of course no substitute for good oral hygiene and the dentist, but prevention is always better than cure – particularly when green tea has so many other health benefits as well.

Natural help for gum disease

December 20, 2007 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Health, Natural Medicine, Wellness

Noticed your gums are inflamed and tender or bleed slightly when brushing your teeth? These, together with receding gums, chronic bad breath and loose teeth or widening space between gums and teeth are symptoms of gum disease.

Gum disease starts with plaque on the teeth which is formed when bacteria in the mouth mixes with saliva and residues from starchy foods and sugar in your diet. If you don’t remove it properly then it accumulates and hardens underneath the gumline into tartar. That is much more difficult to remove than everyday plaque and will mean a visit to the dentist. If you have bleeding from the gums with pain, called periodontitis, then that is a sign that the infection and inflammation has spread to the deeper tissues and bone. After the age of 30, periodontitis is responsible for more tooth loss than cavities. Brushing your teeth after every meal, and especially after eating anything containing sugar, is a good preventive programme but there is also natural help on hand.

Vitamin C
The link between vitamin C deficiency and gum disease is well known and is one of the reasons that back in the 18th century, sailors ate limes during long trips at sea to keep their gums from bleeding. It probably helped the taste of the rum as well. There is research showing a link between low intake of vitamin C and higher rates of gum disease, particularly gingivitis, so make sure you have a minimum of 250mg a day and eat foods rich in vitamin C, such as grapefruit, oranges, kiwi fruit, mango, papaya, strawberry, red pepper, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cantaloupe melon. If you are taking supplements, don’t get the chewable vitamin C because the acidity may promote the erosion of tooth enamel over time.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects and may reduce susceptibility to gum disease, again research by Boston University shows a link between low levels of vitamin D and gingivitis. Being out in sunlight is one of the best ways to boost levels of this vitamin so get out into the sun wherever you can and no need for sun block at this time of year, unless of course you are off to the Caribbean for the winter.

Stress reduction
Of course stress affects virtually every aspect of your health and wellbeing, but in this context it contributes to gum disease by increasing plaque accumulation. A University of Dusseldorf study examined how exam stress would impact plaque and gum bleeding. All students had a professional tooth cleaning 4 weeks prior to exams and then 4 weeks after exams. They found that students had significantly higher rates of plaque and gingivitis after their exams compared to a control group of students that didn’t take exams. I suspect they didn’t take into account the fact that under stress our diets also lean heavily on sugar and chocolate which also increases plaque.

Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has so many uses it’s invaluable in my natural first aid box and as it has proven antibiotic properties it can help reduce gingivitis and bleeding, but it won’t reduce the amount of plaque. You must NOT use neat tea tree oil in the mouth or anywhere else. You can get tea tree toothpaste from a health store or you can put one drop in a cup of warm water and rinse it round your gums. DO NOT SWALLOW but spit it out immediately and I suggest you don’t eat or drink for at least 15 minutes as it tastes pretty grim.