Note to reader: This article represents one of many such articles I wrote originally for use by a network of natural dentists who purchased them for blogs and websites. And, since this one was never used by the dental group I am happy to share it with you here.
Gum disease – also known as periodontitis – is a chronic bacterial infection that essentially destroys the soft tissue and surrounding bone structures that otherwise help to support healthy teeth. This unfortunate scenario happens as the bacteria binds with food particles to form a sticky, colorless plaque on the teeth. If the plaque is not brushed away it can build up and lead to more serious forms of gum disease. While the first line of defense against all gum disease is, of course – regular check-ups with your dentist, decades of research studies suggest that the fight against periodontitis can actually begin at home, in the form of a nutritional supplement called Coenzyme Q10 or ‘ubiquinone’.
Stage One – Gingivitis
Gingivitis is considered to be the mildest and earliest form of gum disease. Left untreated it can cause the gums to become red, swollen and to bleed easily. Although there may be little or no discomfort at this point, it is important to treat these early symptoms because as gingivitis progresses, it can lead to periodontitis or periodontal disease – the more advanced form of gum disease.
Stage Two – Periodontal Disease
At this point the build-up of bacteria begins to form a deep inflammation within the supporting tissues of the teeth. This stage of gum infection can lead to normally benign mouth bacteria multiplying out of control and spreading throughout the body – where it can cause or compound other chronic health issues.
Who is affected by gum disease?
As much as 90 percent of all Americans will be affected by gum disease during their lifetimes, and fully a quarter of those will lose their teeth to advanced forms of periodontal disease by the age of 60. Warning signs include swollen, tender and bleeding gums transforming into chronic bad breath, loose and shifting teeth, and then pus-filled buildup between teeth and gums as the disease takes hold. And then it gets even worse as sensitive gums recede away from the teeth, this eventually leading to total tooth failure: or tooth loss.
How can we guard against gum disease?
Naturally, the first line of defense against all forms of gum disease is proper dental hygiene which includes brushing twice daily, flossing once a day and routine professional cleanings. Proper nutrition is also vital to oral health. Supplements and nutrients that are known to work to boost the immune system, help build collagen in the periodontal ligaments, and decrease inflammation can help stop gum disease before it gets started – and help to heal gum disease. One of the most researched and highly recommended supplements for fighting gum disease is CoQ-10.
COQ-10 Studies – the proof is in the results
Clinical studies conducted since the mid 1970’s have shown that people with gum disease tend to have low levels of CoQ-10 in their gums. A few studies found that CoQ-10 supplements led to faster healing and tissue repair – primarily by boosting the immune system and supporting the body’s natural ability to fight off pathogens. In one of the more interesting studies 24 patients suffering from severe periodontal disease that did not respond to extensive flossing and brushing were selected for study. About a dozen of those subjects received 50 mg of CoQ-10, while the others received placebos. The majority of CoQ-10 patients showed dramatic improvement while only about a quarter of the placebo recipients showed minor improvement. Interestingly, a full quarter of the CoQ-10 patients were completely healed of gum disease in as little as eight weeks. Later studies conducted in Japan confirmed that 60 mg a day of CoQ-10 could improve diseased gums overall.
The benefits of CoQ-10 go beyond oral health
The human body requires CoQ-10 to generate energy. This energy takes the form of adenosine triphosphate molecules which works to transfer of energy between cells. People who suffer from gum disease require sufficient energy for the healing and repair of gum tissues, which naturally necessitates sufficient amounts of CoQ-10. CoQ-10 is not only important to anyone interested in stopping and/or reversing gum disease, this nutrient is so essential to the proper functioning of every cell in the body that a deficiency of CoQ-10 has been linked to a number of chronic diseases including:
• Heart Disease
• Parkinson’s Disease
• Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)
Periodontal disease has also been associated with many of these same chronic illnesses and in particular; heart disease, type 2 diabetes and respiratory disease as well as problems in conception and pregnancy.
Finding the right CoQ-10 for you
Small amounts of CoQ-10 can be found in foods, primarily meat and fish with the greatest amounts found in organ meats like heart, liver and kidneys. It is also found in beef, soy oil, sardines, mackerel and peanuts. As a supplement, coenzyme Q10 is available in numerous forms such as soft gel and hard shell capsules as well as mouth rinses and oral sprays.
But before you rush out to buy a bottle at your local health food store, you might want to consider that a newer and likely superior form of CoQ-10 called Ubiquinol is now available. This type of CoQ-10 makes the benefits of this important supplement even more readily available to the body, particularly in adults.
The CoQ-10 found in most supplements is called ‘ubiquinone’. In order to produce cellular energy, the body must convert the ubiquinone to ubiquinol. It is the ubiquinol that carries electrons through the mitochondria to produce vital energy to the cells. By and large younger, healthy people can easily convert CoQ-10 to ubiquinol. But as people age – or when chronic illness is present, a person’s ability to convert CoQ-10 to ubiquinol is limited. This decreased ability becomes more apparent the closer we get to age 40, although some researchers suggest that it may begin in the early to mid-20s. Therefore, most experts recommend that healthy individuals under the age of 25, who can easily convert standard CoQ-10 to ubiquinol, take the conventional form of CoQ-10 – everyone over the age of 25 will likely benefit more from the properties of CoQ-10 by using Ubiquinol.