We spend the better part of our lives fighting cavities tooth and nail. Then when we hit our thirties and forties, we have to worry about another threat to our pearly whites: gum disease, or gingivitis. The problem can be caused by any number of the 300 or so different types of bacteria that take shelter in our mouths. Without proper brushing and flossing, some of these bacteria burrow into our gums, resulting in a plaque buildup known as gingivitis that causes gums to redden, swell and bleed easily.
Although it’s painless, gingivitis can lead to the more serious and more painful periodontitis as well as eventual tooth loss. The natural remedies in this chapter, in conjunction with medical care and used with your dentist’s approval may help control gingivitis, according to some health professionals.
Did you know that your teeth are the strongest, best constructed, and most capable of resisting disease of any part of your body? If that is true, then why is the most resilient part of your body the first to start developing problems? Though your teeth begin to develop problems tooth decay, cavities, gum disease from the time they emerge from your gums, and continue to deteriorate until old age, that is not necessarily the way things are supposed to happen. In the absence of periodontal disease, teeth and gums have every chance of remaining healthy and strong until a ripe old age.
Unfortunately, 75-95% of Americans unknowingly suffer from periodontal disease, which can not only destroy teeth, gums and the nerves that serve them, but also mysteriously lead to heart disease, diabetes, respiratory illness, osteoporosis, pre-term or low birth weight delivery, and stroke. Pregnancy gingivitis is very prevalent and curable WITHOUT drugs or surgery.
So what causes periodontal disease? Well, most people are unaware that periodontal disease is contagious, and was probably contracted at an early age. Microbes are passed from one person to another, instigating the first stage of periodontal disease: tooth decay. Other stages include pyorrhea and gingivitis, usually considered separate diseases, but which are actually part of the same disease. Loose teeth, bleeding and pain are all evidence of the microbial organisms settling along the gum line and working their way under, where they will settle in a place that cannot be reached by flossing and brushing.
To combat periodontal disease, one must be able to clean under the gum line, where pockets form between teeth and gums in the presence of decay. But brushing for five minutes and flossing three times a day won’t do a thing to flush out the microbes hidden in these pockets.
One of the first steps in treating periodontal disease is to realize that this is a wound to your body the same as an infected cut on your arm. You must eliminate the cause keep the wound clean. Many people own an electric oral irrigator of some sort. It usually gets stored in the same place under the sink gathering dust. Out of sight – out of mind. If there was a small cut on your hand that bled every time you washed your hands, it wouldn't take you long to get to the doctor. The same thing is going on in your mouth; however you don’t see it. (But, you can sure smell it.) Luckily, there is a simple and inexpensive way to clean those pockets every day.
An oral irrigator that attaches to your shower head or sink faucet allows users to flush particles out which are trapped between the teeth and under the gum line.
For deeper pockets, irrigation with a solution such as a salt/baking soda/water mixture may be required. Many people have found relief using Hydrogen Peroxide (for a limited time) and colloidal silver. Irrigating tools for using an undiluted solution are available on the internet.
See Your Dentist When…
- You have bad breath that doesn’t go away within 24 hours.
- Your teeth look longer, the result of gums shrinking away from your teeth.
- Your teeth are loose, fall out or break off near the gum line.
- You notice a change in your tooth alignment, the way your bite feels.
- Your dentures fit differently.
- Pus pockets form between your teeth and gums.
- Your gums are still swollen, sore or bleeding despite good oral hygiene.
When gums look inflamed and irritated, add a drop of tea tree essential oil to your toothbrush, on top of the toothpaste, before brushing, says Fair Oaks, California, aroma therapist Victoria Edwards. This is also great preventive medicine, says Edwards. "tea tree is a natural antiseptic and helps prevent gum disease before it starts.”
For information on preparing and administering essential oils, including cautions about their use, see page 19. For information on purchasing essential oils, refer to the resource list on page 633.
"High intake of vitamin C has been shown to be as effective in controlling gingivitis as brushing and flossing,” says Richard D. Fischer, D.D.S., a dentist in Annandale, Virginia, and president of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology. While that’s not to say you shouldn't brush and floss, vitamin C makes gums less likely to bleed and promotes the healing process, says Dr. Fischer. And, he points out, it helps strengthen the gum tissue, making it less vulnerable to bacteria and other irritants. He recommends trying to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, including vitamin C rich broccoli, citrus fruits, peppers, strawberries and tomatoes.
Look for toothpastes and mouthwashes containing bloodroot, such as Viadent, says Varro E. Tyler, Ph.D., professor of pharmacognosy at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Scientific studies show that bloodroot can help prevent the buildup of plaque and the development of gum disease.
If you think you have gingivitis, you may want to try one of the following 30C remedies two or three times a day until you see your dentist, says Chris Meletis, N.D., a naturopathic physician and Medicinary Director at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. If you have a persistent sour taste in your mouth, bleeding gums and bad breath, especially if the tip of your tongue feels like it is burning and your symptoms are worse with cold, Dr. Meletis suggests trying Calcarea carbonica. Carbo vegetabilis may help, he says, if you have retracted gums that bleed easily, especially after brushing at night. If your gums bleed and are spongy and swollen, Lachesis is the remedy to choose, he says.