By William Hetherington / Staff writer
Eating foods rich in vitamin C can help people with gingivitis, a dentist wrote on Facebook on Saturday, citing a recent increase in gingivitis cases linked to stress amid a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert.
Heightened stress levels experienced by many people during the pandemic might weaken their immune system and lead to health problems including gingivitis,
Taipei-based dentist Tsao Hao-wei (曹皓崴) said, adding that vitamin C-rich foods can help prevent gingivitis due to its role in strengthening the gums.
“Nobody knows when the level 3 alert will end and when people can get back to their normal lives, so they have no way to deal with their anxiety,” he said.
Online classes for students and remote work arrangements for their parents add to the pandemic-induced stress, as family members spend more time together at home, he said.
“When we are repeatedly exposed to stress, our bodies consume large amounts of vitamin C and produce adrenaline. When the body’s vitamin C reserves are insufficient, its ability to combat stress decreases,” Tsao said.
Vitamin C helps with the elasticity of veins and arteries, and vitamin C deficiency caused by stress — along with stress-induced inflammation — can lead to arterial damage that results in bleeding gums, he said.
“When this occurs, there is also an increased risk of bacterial infection, which might require emergency visits to the dental clinic — we are seeing a lot of that now,” Tsao said.
During times of heightened stress, people should eat more fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin C, such as guavas, kiwifruit, peppers, strawberries and citrus fruits, Tsai said.
“Guavas are the food highest in vitamin C. However, when you eat guava, it is best to cut it into smaller pieces rather than bite into a whole one,” Tsao said, citing a case in which someone damaged their teeth when biting into a whole guava.
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