Coenzyme Q10 (or CoQ10 for short) is a vitamin-like antioxidant naturally produced by your body. It mainly resides in mitochondria—organelles in each and every cell responsible for breaking down nutrients and turning them into energy.
This energy is especially important for the heart: the hardest-working muscle in the body. Because the heart beats 24/7 without taking a rest, it uses a whole lot of energy. As such, robust levels of CoQ10 help to keep your heart working efficiently, and as a result, keeps you feeling healthy and energized. (On the contrary, deficiencies in CoQ10 can greatly impact heart health and increase risk of high blood pressure, arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, fatigue and angina.)
Unfortunately, as we age, the body makes less and less CoQ10. Certain medications, cholesterol-lowering statin drugs in particular, also lower the body’s stores of CoQ10. So supplementing becomes crucial not just for energy production, but for cardiovascular health as a whole.
While most people who take supplemental CoQ10 do so for the heart benefits, more and more research is uncovering just how versatile this nutrient is for other health concerns. For example, it may prevent neurological diseases like Parkinson’s, and recent research is confirming its ability to treat periodontal (gums) disease.
This latter benefit is especially promising, because periodontal disease affects up to 50 percent of the global population.1 This advanced form of gum disease, which causes swollen, sensitive, bleeding gums, is not only one of the top causes of tooth loss, it increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory issues (including lung cancer), and even colorectal cancer.2
How can a gum condition possibly have such an effect on the rest of your organs? It happens because the pathogenic bacteria responsible for periodontal disease can easily enter the bloodstream through affected gum tissue and spread to other parts of your body. Once there, it causes inflammation in the area, which is the root cause of many of our worst diseases, including those mentioned above.
CoQ10 and Your Gums
It’s important to treat periodontal disease quickly and aggressively to prevent loss of teeth and a negative impact on the rest of the body. Standard treatment involves a combination of nonsurgical procedures called scaling and root planing.
Scaling is the removal of plaque and tartar above and below the gum line. Root planing is the smoothing out of any rough patches on the roots of the teeth. This prevents plaque and tartar from re-adhering to these surfaces and allows the gums to heal and reattach to the teeth.
Sometimes called a “deep cleaning,” scaling and root planing is largely considered the gold standard treatment for chronic periodontal disease.
However, CoQ10 may be a powerful adjunct tool in this fight.
CoQ10 works because, when highly concentrated in diseased gum tissue, it suppresses inflammation. Studies have looked at both topical and oral CoQ10 for treating periodontal disease, and both have proven effective.
In one such study, researchers in India looked at the roles of topical CoQ10 and hyaluronic acid (another known anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent) as adjunct treatments for periodontal disease.
All the patients received standard treatment: scaling and root planing. Additionally, one subset received topical CoQ10 while another group was given topical hyaluronic acid, both for a total of six weeks. The treatment groups experienced significant improvement compared to those who had just the scaling and root planing. The researchers concluded that local application of either agent along with scaling/root planing, “may have a beneficial effect on periodontal health in patients with chronic periodontitis.”3
In another study, participants were divided into two groups. Both groups had scaling and root planing procedures, but the test group was given oral CoQ10 supplements afterward, while the control group was given a placebo. Measurements and evaluations were conducted at baseline, as well as one and three months into treatment.
Both groups showed improvements in measurements at one and three months when compared to baseline, but only the CoQ10 group had marked reductions in gum inflammation.
The moral here: You can’t escape the need for scaling and root planing if you have periodontal disease. It is absolutely a necessary part of treatment. However, you can greatly improve your odds of reducing inflammation and preventing flareups by adding CoQ10 to your regimen. And you don’t need to apply it topically, which can be messy and hard to do. You can simply add a CoQ10 supplement (100-200 mg) to your daily regimen to achieve these spectacular results. (If you are 40 or older, this is especially important because our natural production of CoQ10 diminishes with age.)
Other Tips for Prevention and Treatment
These additional tips can keep your gums healthy and prevent (and even treat) periodontal disease:
- Brush, floss, and visit your dentist regularly. Brushing twice a day, flossing every night, and getting a biannual dental exam are the best things you can do to prevent periodontal disease and a host of other oral health concerns. Consider trying an electric toothbrush, which provides a much deeper clean than manual brushing by removing plaque below the gum line.
- Clean your tongue, too. The coating on your tongue harbors countless bacteria, some of which can contribute to bad breath or gum disease. Clean your tongue with your toothbrush after brushing your teeth, or buy a tongue scraper (available online and at drug stores).
- Avoid sugary and starchy foods, which feed harmful bacteria and help them flourish. If you do eat something sweet, brush your teeth afterward.
- Don’t use alcohol-based mouthwashes. They don’t distinguish between good and harmful bacteria, killing them both. This affects the delicate balance of the oral microbiome, which can lead to problems done the road. If you brush, floss, and tongue scrape daily, you really don’t need a mouthwash. But if you can’t live without one, try making your own. All you need to do is mix together half a cup of filtered/distilled water, two teaspoons of baking soda, and a dash of sea salt. Swish the solution around your mouth like you would a store-bought mouthwash, then spit it out.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to flush away food particles and bacteria in your mouth.
- Consume xylitol. This natural, low-calorie sugar alternative not only reduces cavities but also prevents tooth decay and periodontal disease. Unlike sugar, xylitol raises the pH of the mouth, making it inhospitable to harmful bacteria associated with periodontal disease. Plenty of different brands of gum, candies, and lozenges contain xylitol. You can also simply put about a quarter teaspoon of xylitol granules on your tongue a few times a day and let them dissolve. As they do, swish them around your mouth before swallowing.
- Nazir, MA. Prevalence of periodontal disease, its association with systemic diseases and prevention. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2017 Apr-Jun;11(2):72-80. Last accessed Aug. 1, 2019.
- Michaud DS, et al. Periodontal disease assessed using clinical dental measurements and cancer risk in the ARIC study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2018 Aug 1;110(8):843-54. Last accessed Aug. 1, 2019.
- Sharma V, et al. Comparative evaluation of coenzyme Q10-based gel and 0.8% hyaluronic acid gel in treatment of chronic periodontitis. J Indian Soc Periodontol. 2016 Jul-Aug;20(4):374-80. Last accessed Aug. 1, 2019.
- Manthena S, et al. Effectiveness of CoQ10 oral supplements as an adjunct to scaling and root planing in improving periodontal health. J Clin Diagn Res. 2015 Aug;9(8):ZC26-ZC28. Last accessed Aug. 1, 2019.