How to Fight Oxidative Stress in Your Mouth

Oxidative Stress in the Oral TissueOxidative Stress in Oral Tissue

When there are too many free radicals, or oxidants, in the body, the imbalance is called oxidative stress. In the oral cavity, oxidative stress is associated with infection or inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and other soft tissues (periodontitis). Factors including alcohol consumption, exposure to nicotine, dental procedures, dental cements and composite fillings also lead to oxidative stress. And oxidative stress in the oral cavity can be a major contributor to systemic oxidative stress–which leads to chronic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or vascular disease including heart attack or stroke.

Free Radicals
Just what is a free radical? It’s an unstable molecule with an unpaired electron. In a process called oxidation, the unpaired electron steals electrons from other molecules, creating new unstable free radicals. Sometimes free radicals are called oxidants because they cause the oxidation process. Free radicals occur naturally in the body, including the oral cavity, but can be increased by environmental and lifestyle factors, such as stress, pollutants or poor diet, and other substances, such as nicotine or alcohol.

Antioxidants
Antioxidants are molecules that counteract the process of oxidation. The large, complex antioxidant molecules can bond with the unpaired electrons of free radicals, effectively neutralizing the oxidation process. Some of the most effective antioxidants come from fruits and vegetables; dietary antioxidant supplements are also available.

Antioxidant GelAn emerging and exciting means of countering the effects of free radicals is topical antioxidants, which are applied and not ingested. Our practice is seeing significant improvement in our patients’ oral soft tissue health with the use of oral antioxidants. Improvements have been noted in post-surgical cases as well as those with intra-oral autoimmune lesions.
Research has already proven the effectiveness of topical antioxidants on skin cells. New research is demonstrating that combinations of antioxidants can be applied topically to oral cells to neutralize free radicals in oral tissues. Not every patient is a candidate for antioxidant therapy, but for those who are, our office carries antioxidant gel to aid in lessening inflammation in the oral cavity. Don’t hesitate to call us at 919-518-8222 with questions about this technology and the oral/systemic link to your health. You can also view the video below to learn more about antioxidant gels.