by Leona Meditz

Why is periodontal disease more common among people in their sixties than among twentysomethings, even though older adults can be more dental savvy and brush regularly? The difference is likely in how the body’s ability to fight off the attacks of bacteria and chemicals decreases with aging.

When bacterial infections such as periodontal disease occur, our immune systems attack the invading organisms with a network of cells, tissues, and organs all working together. As we age, the body is less able to assimilate the nutrients required to maintain an optimal immune system, so it is very important to eat more fruits and vegetables and properly supplement our diet.

A healthy diet gives us antioxidants that prevent cell oxidation and reduce the occurrence of systemic diseases including heart disease and even cancer. Cell oxidation is like metal rusting, weakening the cell wall and damaging DNA. Antioxidants prevent cell oxidation and support the immune system.

Without any other dental treatment, a nutritional supplement alone could significantly lower the bleeding and tissue damage caused by periodontal disease, according to researchers at Loma Linda University. The key ingredients in the supplement that the researchers used were grapeseed extract, CoQ10 (Ubiquanone), and folate, which are not normally found in your daily multivitamin.

Proanthocyanidin (Grape Seed Extract)

How can the French and Italians, who drink red wine, be so healthy even with a diet laden with pasta and fat? The wine has proanthocyanidin, which is found in red grapes. Grapeseed extract includes proanthocyanidin, which has 20 to 50 times the antioxidant power of Vitamin C or E.

Naturopathy, the branch of healthcare that focuses on treatment using natural products rather than drugs, has also found grapeseed extract to be a natural antihistamine that combats allergies without drowsiness. It is a natural anti-inflammatory that can reduce c-reactive protein (CRP) and inflammatory diseases while improving the circulatory system.

Grapeseed extract can prevent periodontal bacteria from colonizing in gum tissue and on teeth and prevents the aggression of destructive enzymes. The antioxidant action destroys free-radicals that attack gum tissue.

CoQ10 (Ubiquanone)

Vital to all natural processes including cellular energy, immune system function, heart function, and blood pressure, CoQ10 is used in medicine to treat congestive heart failure, neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, and cancer through tumor suppression. During pregnancy, a woman’s body makes 50% more CoQ10 to aid in placenta development.

Since statin drugs reduce the body’s production of CoQ10, it is important for those taking statin drugs to supplement their diets with CoQ10. Clinical studies show that people with gum disease tend to have low levels of CoQ10 in their gums. CoQ10 may improve symptoms of dry mouth. It also will help damaged gum tissue heal so bacteria cannot hide under the gum line.

Folate and Folic Acid

Folate and folic acid are necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells. They are especially important during rapid cell division and growth, such as during pregnancy and infancy and pregnancy. Folate and folic acid are needed to make DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells, and help prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer. Both adults and children need folate and folic acid to make normal red blood cells and prevent anemia.

Although both are forms of a water-soluble B vitamin, folate occurs naturally in food. Folic acid is the synthetic form found in supplements and fortified foods. Unfortunately, about 20% of the population fail to convert folic acid and thus do not receive its full nutritional benefits. When the body does not convert enough folic acid to L-methyl folate, excess levels of homocysteine may accumulate. Hundreds o published studies have linked excessive homocysteine with common age-related problems.

Updated Research on Additional Nutrients

According to Harvard Medical School, 3.2% of adults over the age of 50 have a seriously low level of vitamin B12, and up to 20% may have a borderline deficiency. B vitamins are used in sugar metabolism. High-sugar diets like those often found in the United States may deplete vitamin B12 while simultaneously increasing periodontitis risk. Also, B vitamins like B12 are involved in wound healing, and decreased intake may delay the repair of gums.

Rhodiolia rosea is a powerful natural substance that normalizes hormonal control of the neuro-endocrine-immunologic system, which is an all-encompassing system directing how the immune system and brain interact with hormones. It is a powerful antioxidant. It helps quench free radicals, defend against oxidative damage in our body, and increase cellular energy by stimulating the fuel for the cell’s mitochondria. Also, it stimulates the production of natural killer cells that protect against infection. It eventually stops both the overproduction and underproduction of inflammation signals as well.

Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that promotes tissue health. By far, it is the most powerful carotenoid antioxidant when it comes to free radical scavenging. Astaxanthin is 65 times more powerful than vitamin C, 54 times more powerful than beta-carotene, and 14 times more powerful than vitamin E. It’s also far more effective than other carotenoids at “singlet oxygen quenching,” which is a particular type of oxidation. It is 550 times more powerful than vitamin E and 11 times more powerful than beta-carotene at neutralizing singlet oxygen.

Astaxanthin crosses both the blood-brain barrier and the blood-retinal barrier (beta carotene and lycopene do not), which brings antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection to your eyes, brain, and central nervous system. It differs from other carotenoids, in that it cannot function as a pro-oxidant.

Most importantly, astaxanthin uniquely protects the entire cell from damage—both the water-soluble part and the fat-soluble portion of the cell. Other antioxidants affect just one or the other. This is due to its unique physical characteristics that allow it to reside within the outside cell membrane while also protecting the inside of the cell.

Turmeric extract inhibits the bacteria that cause cavities, gum disease, and inflammation as effectively as chlorhexidine. It also protects against free radical damage as a strong antioxidant. Water-soluble and fat-soluble extracts of turmeric and its curcumin component exhibit strong antioxidant activity and enhance cellular resistance to oxidative damage, keeping cells healthier. Turmeric additionally protects the cardiovascular system by lowering cholesterol.

Curcumin reduces inflammation by lowering histamine levels and possibly by increasing the production of natural cortisone by the adrenal glands. It reduces both acute and chronic inflammation as well. It also has been shown to prevent platelets from clumping together, which in turn improves circulation and reduces clotting.

Potentially, curcumin helps to prevent new cancers that are caused by chemotherapy or radiation therapy used to treat existing cancers. It effectively inhibits metastasis or the uncontrolled spread of melanoma  cells and may be especially useful in deactivating the carcinogens in cigarette smoke and chewing tobacco.

Further, curcuma inhibits the growth of a variety of bacteria, parasites, and pathogenic fungi and helps heal infection. And, curcumin decreases the formation of pro-inflammatory cytokines and protects the liver from a number of toxic compounds such as carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), galactosamine, acetaminophen (paracetamol), and aspergillus.

Bromelain is effective for removing necrotic tissues and for treating various wounds. It reduces inflammation and is also an anti-oxidant.

Boswellia serrate is the most potent inhibitor of the enzyme responsible for inflammation. It powerfully supports immune, gastrointestinal, and cell health. Boswellia also inhibits the breakdown of connective tissue and builds up new connective tissue. It may support a healthy immune response as well.

Holy basil inhibits the bacteria that cause cavities, gum disease, and inflammation and is as effective as chlorhexidine without negative side effects.

Chlorella captures dietary mercury and is a bio-available source of both iron and vitamin B12.

Scutellaria baicalensis georgi (E)(skullcap) Is antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory. It blocks viruses, bacteria, and fungi from multiplying. Scutellaria is most effective against Candida, the Streptococcus group, Staphylococcus, and others. It also increases the production of collagen in the gums, which helps reverse gingivitis and prevent periodontal disease.

Yes, a diet laden with fruits and vegetables is even more important as we age. If one is prone to periodontal disease, a dietary supplement of these botanicals can support periodontal health and reduce inflammation.

Ms. Meditz is founder and executive director of HCP Wellnet and formulator of Clean Kiss products. Her career mission is to “make HEALTH contagious” via oral health. She can be reached at