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Vitamin B12 deficiency: The ‘serious’ sign when you brush your teeth that levels are low

Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency

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A deficiency in B12 can be slow to develop, showing subtle symptoms which appear gradually and intensify over time. The deficiency will be signalled through a host of complications that can manifest in as little as two months. One sign when you brush your teeth, however, could be warning that you’ve had low levels of B12 for a long time.

Periodontitis is a severe infection of the gum characterised by painful symptoms that can make it harder to speak, swallow and eat.

The condition is progressive, usually starts as gingivitis and advances to more serious stages if left untreated.

Studies show that low B12 levels in the body make it more probable for individuals to develop periodontitis.

One study in particular, published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, shed light on the matter after following 1,648 participants between 2002 and 2012.

READ MORE: B12 deficiency symptoms: Three signs low B12 has caused ‘irreversible’ damage in your feet

Researchers measured B12 levels, as well as pocket depth in the gum and clinical attachment loss, to reflect periodontal status.

According to the data, there was an association between vitamin B12 and risk ratios of tooth loss linked to periodontitis overtime.

Researchers revealed that individuals with chronically low levels of B12 were also at greater risk of severe periodontitis symptoms.

These include bright red, purplish gums, spitting out blood when brushing or flossing your teeth, bad breath, and pus between the teeth.

This connection is thought to be down to the role of B12 vitamins in sugar absorption.

When vitamin B12 levels are too low, sugar intake begins to wreak havoc on the gums, paving the way to periodontitis.

What’s more, B vitamins play a vital role in the acceleration of wound healing, meaning that low levels in this vitamin will delay gum repair.

Researchers, however, have noted that further studies are needed to understand the mechanisms between B12 and gum disease.

A serious deficiency can be corrected in two ways, including weekly shots of vitamin B12 or daily high-dose B12 pills.

A mild B12 deficiency can be corrected with standard multivitamin supplements, which typically delivers 6 micrograms of B12 – more than the average body needs daily.

As with most conditions, early detection of a B12 deficiency is key. When it is left untreated it can lead to an onslaught of complications, including neurological problems and blood diseases.

Signs of severe B12 deficiency may also include depression, paranoia, delusions, memory loss, incontinence, loss of taste and smell and more.

Deficiencies in the vitamin typically stem from practices undertaken to improve health, such as vegetarianism and weight-loss surgery.

Some individuals do not consume enough of the vitamin to meet their needs, while others simply cannot absorb it.

Vitamin B12 deficiencies are particularly rife among older people, due to a shortfall in stomach acid production that correlates with ageing.

The foods that deliver vitamin B12 are meat, eggs, poultry, dairy products, and other foods from animals.

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