Gum disease is a common oral health affliction that causes inflammation of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. When the inflammation is relatively mild, it is referred to as gingivitis. However, when the condition escalates to a more severe stage, it is known as periodontitis.
According to the American Dental Association, if gum disease goes untreated, the damage can spread to the bone in your jaw such that small openings may appear between the gum and teeth. As a result, your teeth won’t be held in place securely and tooth loss can occur.
Causes of Gum Disease
The primary cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene, resulting in plaque buildup along and under the gum line. Plaque builds up when bacteria attach to the tooth and gum margins.
Other factors that contribute to the problem are:
- Chewing tobacco
- Crooked, rotated, or overlapping teeth
- Poor saliva production
- Hormonal changes in the body during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause
- Genetic predisposition
- High alcohol intake
- A diet high in sugar and carbohydrates and low in water intake
- Deficiency of important nutrients such as vitamin C
- Certain medications
- Cancer and cancer treatment
Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease
Gum disease is characterized by symptoms such as:
- Persistent bad breath
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
- Pain when chewing
- Sensitive teeth
- Partial dentures that no longer fit
It cannot be stressed enough that adequate and appropriate oral hygiene is the most essential prerequisite for preventing any kind of gum disease.
A good oral hygiene regimen entails:
- Brushing your teeth twice daily
- Flossing once a day to remove food particles stuck in between the teeth
- Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and replacing it in every 3–4 months
- Rinsing the mouth with mouthwash twice daily
- Having regular dental checkups, at least twice a year
Additional preventive measures:
- Quit smoking and chewing tobacco, as they can increase your risk of oral problems.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stimulate the production of saliva, which naturally helps kill bacteria.
- Eat a low-sugar diet.
When to See a Doctor
When it comes to gum disease, it is better to treat the problem as early as possible. Untreated, gingivitis can progress into other more serious oral problems.
See your dentist immediately if you have:
- Extreme tooth pain
- Bad breath
- Bleeding from the gums
- Swollen or inflamed gums
Depending upon the condition of your teeth and gums, your dentist may prescribe medicated mouthwash or antibiotics.
In the meantime, to relieve the pain and discomfort from gum disease, you can try some effective home remedies. Remedies can be used to alleviate symptoms, treat gum disease, and prevent further complications.
Here are some home remedies that work against gum disease.
1. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is a traditional Ayurvedic technique that is excellent for oral care. It helps strengthen the teeth and gums, reduces plaque, and relieves bad breath. It is also considered good for overall health as it removes toxins.
A 2009 study published the Indian Journal of Dental Research reports that regular oil pulling can aid in the reduction of plaque and is beneficial for plaque-induced gingivitis.
Another 2017 study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine gives further credence to the claim that oil pulling can significantly improve oral hygiene when practiced correctly and regularly.
However, bear in mind that oil pulling alone cannot put an end to your dental troubles. It is recommended as a complementary technique that is to be adopted alongside your regular oral hygiene regimen, dental cleanups, and checkups.
For oil pulling, sesame oil is a good option.
- Swish one tablespoon of sesame oil in your mouth and through your teeth.
- Do this for about 15 minutes or until it becomes thin and turns milky.
- Spit it out and rinse your mouth with water.
- Repeat the process daily for about a month.
For better results, use coconut oil for oil pulling.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide works as a strong antibacterial agent that kills germs and fights gum disease.
In a 1995 study published in the Journal of Periodontology, it was found that prolonged use of hydrogen peroxide aids in the reduction of plaque and gingivitis indices.
Again, in a 2016 study published in the Journal of International Society of Backentive & Community Dentistry, researchers analyzed the effect of hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash in comparison with chlorhexidine in chronic periodontitis patients. The results revealed that both mouthwashes significantly reduced the gingival index.
Additionally, hydrogen peroxide helps whiten and brighten your pearly whites. Make sure you use 3% hydrogen peroxide solution that typically comes in brown bottles, rather than the highly concentrated version.
- Mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water. Rinse your mouth with the solution for a few seconds, and then spit it out. Use it a few times a week until you are satisfied with the results.
- Alternatively, mix hydrogen peroxide little by little into 1 teaspoon of baking soda to make a paste. Put the paste on your toothbrush and gently brush it on your gums and gum line. Lastly, spit it out and rinse your mouth. Use it a few times a week for a few weeks.
- You can also apply a paste of clove oil and hydrogen peroxide, leave it on for a few seconds, and then spit it out. Repeat as needed.
3. Baking Soda
You can use baking soda to keep your mouth free from germs and bacteria and, consequently, prevent gum disease. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, neutralizes acid production in the mouth and also works as an antiseptic to prevent infections.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association suggests that the beneficial effect of baking soda in gingival health is due to its antibacterial and biofilm-disruptive activity.
Another 2018 study published in BDJ Open found that baking soda is effective for plaque removal as well.
- Pour 1 cup of water into a glass or jar. Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Add 4 drops of pure peppermint oil. Add 4 drops of tea tree oil. Mix the ingredients well. Use this solution as a mouthwash twice daily for a few weeks.
- Put a little baking soda on your wet toothbrush and use it to brush your teeth once a day.
4. Aloe Vera
Due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and healing properties, aloe vera has been found to be beneficial in thwarting gum disease.
Being an antimicrobial, it deals with the very cause of gum infections by combating oral bacteria.
In a 2006 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry, researchers demonstrated the mitigating impact of aloe vera on plaque and gingivitis.
Moreover, its effectiveness in fighting bad breath and healing mouth ulcers makes aloe vera the go-to ingredient for healthy, wholesome oral goodness.
- Massage your gums with fresh aloe vera gel, leave it on for at least half an hour, and then rinse it off. Repeat several times a day.
- Alternatively, swish some aloe vera juice in your mouth a few times, and then spit it out.
- You can also drink about 2 teaspoons of aloe vera juice on a regular basis.
Follow any of these remedies daily for several weeks.
5. Salt Water
To deal with pain and swelling in the gums due to gum disease, a homemade salt water mouthwash is very effective. Being an antiseptic, salt helps kill harmful bacteria and thereby improves and preserves your oral health.
A 2016 study published in PLOS One reports that salt solution as mouth rinse in conjunction with routine oral care is beneficial in healing gums inflamed by gingivitis.
- Add ½ teaspoon of salt to a glass of lukewarm water and mix well.
- Swish the solution in your mouth for up to 30 seconds.
- Spit out the solution.
- Repeat twice a day.
Turmeric is another winner when it comes to kitchen staples that are effective against gum disease.
The compound curcumin is responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric; it helps reduce the pain, swelling, and inflammation stemming from gum disease.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology proposed a turmeric mouthwash as an effective tool in controlling plaque as it has antiplaque, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.
Another 2015 study published in the National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery found turmeric gel to be helpful against plaque and gingivitis.
- Mix ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder with a little water to make a paste. Apply this paste on your gums with a clean finger and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Massage gently for 1 minute before rinsing your mouth with warm water. Repeat twice daily.
- You can also boil ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder in 1 cup of water. Allow it to cool and use this solution as a mouthwash once daily.
7. Tea Tree Oil
The anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil help soothe irritated and inflamed gums.
A study published in the Australian Dental Journal in 2008 found that topical application of tea tree oil gel helped reduce gum bleeding and gingivitis, although it had no effect on plaque accumulation.
Another 2014 study published in Contemporary Clinical Dentistry found tea tree oil mouthwash to be effective in reducing gingival bleeding.
- Add 3-4 drops of tea tree oil into a cup of warm water. Use this solution as a mouthwash 2-3 times per day.
- You may add a drop of tea tree oil into your toothpaste when brushing your teeth.
8. Indian Gooseberry
Indian gooseberry, also known as amla, can promote oral health and prevent gum disease.
Enriched with vitamin C and a horde of other nutrients, amla helps strengthen the gums and supports connective tissue health. It also prevents the growth of bacteria in the mouth that are the root of most oral problems and bad breath.
Going by a 2014 study published in Pharmacognosy Reviews, amla is renowned as a general rebuilder of oral health in Ayurveda.
- Thoroughly chew 1 to 2 fresh amla fruits daily.
- Prepare a mouthwash by adding 1 tablespoon of amla juice in ½ cup of water. Rinse your mouth with this solution once daily.
9. Indian Lilac
Indian lilac, also known as neem, is good for curbing the oral plaque buildup associated with gingivitis. Owing to its potent antibacterial properties, neem helps destroy gum disease-causing bacteria.
This is supported by a 2011 study published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, wherein researchers found neem to be effective in preventing plaque.
- Grind a few neem leaves into a paste. Use this paste to brush your gums as well as your teeth a few times a week.
- You can use tender neem tree twigs to brush your teeth.
- Another option is to rub the juice from neem leaves on your teeth and gums. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes and then rinse it off with warm water. Do this once daily.
Guava is considered an excellent antiplaque agent that helps remove plaque accumulated on the teeth and gums. Furthermore, it boasts of anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that help reduce swelling and pain in the gums.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Indian Association of Public Health Dentistry reports that guava leaves possess antibacterial activity and are effective against gum diseases.
Another 2014 study published in Pharmacognosy Reviews highlights the potential of guava in the treatment of periodontal disease.
- Wash some tender guava leaves and chew them properly before spitting them out. Do this daily to reduce the risk of plaque formation on your teeth.
- You can also use a mouth rinse containing guava leaf extract.
Tea, particularly black or green tea, can be used to reduce the pain and inflammation due to gum disease. In addition, it contains antioxidants that help fight infections.
In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, researchers found that green tea promotes periodontal health by reducing inflammation, preventing bone resorption, and limiting the growth of certain bacteria associated with periodontal diseases.
- Steep a tea bag in hot water for 10 minutes, and then allow it to cool. Place the tea bag on the affected area for three to five minutes. Repeat a few times a day until you get relief.
- Steep a cup of green or black tea and allow it to cool. Use it as a mouthwash.
- You can also chew sugarless gum made with green tea.
- As being deficient in vitamin C can cause gum inflammation and bleeding, you must include more vitamin C-rich foods in your diet.
- As vitamin D also helps reduce the risk of gum disease, take a vitamin D supplement daily. Run this by your doctor first, though.
- Include calcium-rich foods in your diet for strong teeth.
- Eat crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, and radishes to stimulate saliva production and help keep your mouth clean.
- To rinse your mouth, do not use tap water. Instead, use filtered, bottled, distilled, or mineral water.
- Be as gentle as you can while brushing your teeth.
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