Thirty dental students and auxiliary personnel (aged 21-32 years) were randomly assigned, in double-blind fashion, to rinse their mouths for 5 minutes twice a day with 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of either a 0.1% folic acid solution or placebo solution. After 60 days of treatment, gingival inflammation, as assessed by the gingival index and bleeding index, was significantly less in the folic acid group than in the placebo group.
Comment: Several studies have shown that folic acid supplementation can improve gingivitis. Topical application of folic acid, as in a mouth rinse, has been found to be more effective than oral ingestion of a similar amount of the vitamin. It has been suggested that a localized deficiency of folic acid plays a role in the development of gingivitis, and that this deficiency can be corrected by bathing the gingival tissues in folic acid.
Folic acid has also been used to treat phenytoin (dilantin)-induced gingival hyperplasia. Although this treatment may improve gum health, it should be used with caution, because large doses of folic acid (more than 1 mg/day) have the potential to interfere with the anticonvulsant effect of phenytoin. On the other hand, treatment with phenytoin frequently causes folic acid deficiency, so people taking this drug should receive at least a modest dose of supplemental folic acid.
Vogel RI, et al. The effect of topical application of folic acid on gingival health. J Oral Med 1978;33:20-22.
by Alan R. Gaby, MD
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