Gum Recession

Hi Ellie — From your blog:

Dr. Ellie,

My children and I have used your Mouth Care System for over a year, and my once sensitive teeth are feeling great!

Here’s my concern:

My 17 year old son saw the dentist yesterday and was alarmed to hear that his gums are unusually receded for his age especially around the bottom lower teeth. The dentist said that his teeth are very strong and healthy, but she’s very concerned about his gum recession..

Your response is a long lecture based on the premise that the kid hadn’t been using your system correctly. That could be true, but it is pretty disrespectful to hammer on it so much when the lady said her family had been using your system for over a year and reported that she herself was doing great.

An alternative explanation for the young man’s gum recession is subclinical scurvy. Many kids don’t get enough vitamin C, and my personal experience testifies to the consequences.

From the time I was in grade school (1940s) until about 1970, I had mostly strong, healthy teeth, like this boy, but steadily receding gums. I asked dentist after dentist what do do about it, and got (and tried) all sorts of goofy advice.

Then Linus Pauling’s book about Vitamin C and the Common Cold came out. My wife and I had had at least the usual number of colds and looked forward with delight toward reducing their number.

Alas, substantial supplementation with vitamin C had no noticeable effect on our minor illness. But my teeth suddenly and completely stopped bleeding when I brushed, and my gum recession stabilized. (When I told my then dentist, he said, “Oh, yes, vitamin C is very good for that.” I wanted to punch him in the nose!) I don’t have any photos, but I think my gums are in about the same shape now as they were then.

Vitamin C is cheap and safe. I think it should be part of any recommendation to people suffering from gum bleeding and/or recession.


Hi J,

I respect your comments and I agree 100% with you, that nutritional supplementation, probiotics and good diet is necessary – possibly essential for ultimate oral health. I should definitely have recommended vitamin supplements and minerals in addition to a review of the use of my system.

I actually spend quite a bit of time and think about each question – putting the patient in front of me- in a “virtual” scenario. It is good to have had so many years of clinical experience to draw from. I did this with this question – and was thinking, “why on earth, if he is using my system, is this happening?

If my system is used twice a day and with adequate amount of xylitol – I believe you would be hard pressed to find enough vit C deficiency at age 17 to show up as gum recession. You mention your story – but you were an adult and did not have the benefit of my system to help you.

I think I made an OK judgement since I did get a response from the Mom:

“Thank you so much for your reply. You crafted it perfectly for sharing with my son – I imagine that he will be motivated by your words”.

Gum disease is serious – and if I am going to take time to write and reply (at NO charge to anyone) then I need to make my answer clear enough to “encourage” a 17 year old boy to take action.

Maybe in my dental office I would decide if this was the correct “tone” for him – but I had to take a chance. I do not intend to “hammer” him – anymore than I would anyone. I simply try to make the most of my moment and at least “wake” people up!!

Thanks so much for your comments and all the great snippets of knowledge that we can share. Wishing you a great weekend! I love your notes and observations – so keep them coming! They will always get an reply from me!

Best Wishes,


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  • Anonymous says:

    Obviously, this comment comes from someone who has not taken the time to become familiar with other Q&As on this blog, or with Dr Ellie's extensive writing on the subject of systemic/oral health. If they had, their question would better reflect what many of us already know: that Dr. Ellie is truly a champion for patients. I am (clearly) irritated at the tone of the question, given Dr Ellie's evident generosity and compassion.

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