I’m 56, but my teeth and gums don’t look a day over 30. And it’s not just because I’m a dentist. Many people my age have gums that have receded, which means their gums have essentially pulled away from their teeth and created pockets where bacteria thrive. If the pockets grow large enough, teeth become loose.
To prevent this, do what I do: Brush, floss, eat right and take a couple of extra nutrients. Here, my four must-have supplements for strong teeth and healthy gums:
Every day, I chew a supplement that contains 60 milligrams of coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, an antioxidant that helps maintain the soft tissues in your body -- including your gums. Some early research suggests that taking CoQ10 can even help shrink the pockets caused by gum disease.
My CoQ10 chewable supplement also contains calcium, a mineral found in your jawbone. If you don’t get enough calcium, your jaw weakens, loosening your teeth. Men and women between the ages of 19 and 49 need 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily, while those over 50, like me, require 1,200 milligrams. A cup of milk or yogurt packs about 300 milligrams, and an ounce of most cheeses has about 200 milligrams. You can find a cool calcium calculator at BestBonesForever.gov. It’s designed for teens -- the group that has the highest calcium requirements -- but anyone can use it by inputting his or her age.
To absorb calcium, your body needs vitamin D. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, one-third of Americans don’t get enough. I follow the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation and get at least 400 IU daily. Milk has about 100 IU per cup, and a 3-ounce serving of fattier fish, like salmon or mackerel, contains about 300 IU. If you don’t drink milk or eat fish, you could probably use a supplement of 400 IU daily.
There’s one more super-important nutrient for your teeth: vitamin C. It’s a building block for collagen, which helps keep your teeth attached to your gums. A study in the Journal of Periodontology found that men and women who consumed fewer than 60 milligrams of vitamin C daily were 150 percent more likely to have gum disease than people who took in at least 180 milligrams. Fruit and veggies are the major sources of vitamin C (one orange alone has 60 milligrams). I get enough C in my diet, but if you don’t, consider taking a supplement.
Tip: Avoid Fizzy Supplements
Don’t buy the chewable vitamin C tablets or any kind of supplement that fizzes when you dissolve it in water. Chewable and fizzy vitamins lower the pH in your mouth and erode your tooth enamel. In fact, a recent study from the University of Helsinki found that fizzy supplements, including those that contain calcium, caused teeth to lose minerals. The worst offenders were the fizzy vitamin C supplements. They corroded the teeth so much that the layer below the enamel was exposed.
More on stronger teeth and healthier smile from our sponsor