Over half of all Americans over the age of 30 have had gum disease at some point, and this is generally considered the most dangerous oral health problem, short of cancer. Along with an increased risk of tooth loss, gum disease has also been linked to other serious health conditions (like heart disease).
What Is Gum Disease?
Also known as gingivitis, gum disease is an inflammation in the supporting structure or “soft tissue” around the teeth. It’s generally caused by poor oral hygiene, and symptoms include swollen gums, bleeding or redness in the gum tissue, etc. The severity of symptoms may differ from patient to patient, and it often goes undetected until a dental checkup.
If left untreated, gingivitis can turn into periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease that affects the bone under the teeth, causing severe loss of gum tissue and bone in the jaw. If you find that your gums bleed when you’re brushing your teeth and flossing, or there is visible inflammation or pain, visit a dentist at the earliest.
What Causes Gum Disease?
The most common cause is poor hygiene and oral care, which leads to plaque buildup on the teeth and gums. This sticky layer promotes the growth of harmful bacteria, and if it isn’t removed by brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar or calculus. Accumulated plaque and tartar can cause irritation and bacterial infection in your gums, leading to gingivitis.
Common Factors Of Gum Disease
- Smoking/chewing tobacco
- Alcohol abuse
- Stress-related immune disorders
- Tooth alignment/crowding issues
- Dry mouth
- Poor nutrition
- Hormonal changes
- Certain medications
- Diabetes/other health conditions
Natural Remedies For Gum Disease
Here are some natural solutions for gum disease:
- Oil Pulling: Use 100% organic coconut, olive or sesame oil, and swish it around your mouth for several minutes. This method helps to remove toxins, plaque buildup and inflammation from the teeth and gums. Read more about oil pulling.
- Aloe Vera: Use aloe vera gel as an anti-inflammatory solution for red, swollen and inflamed gums. If possible, use it straight from the plant, since this is supposed to offer the maximum benefit. Read about the many health benefits of aloe vera.
- Sage Decoction: Boil 50 fresh, organic sage leaves in distilled water, and use this antioxidant decoction as an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial gargle/mouthwash several times a day. You can also drink it as tea!
- Neem Products: The healing properties of neem make it the perfect antimicrobial and antifungal solution for gum disease. Use neem mouthwash, toothpaste or gel for better overall dental health as well.
Mustard Oil: Organic mustard oil can be used to prevent gum disease and improve oral hygiene, since it’s anti-microbial and anti-bacterial. In addition to healing gums and destroying bacteria, it also offers natural pain relief. Learn about other natural antibiotics that do not cause side effects.
- Fruits and Veggies: Eating fresh and crunchy fruits or vegetables is a great way to keep your teeth clean. What’s more, they’re also rich in antioxidants that prevent plaque buildup and promote better oral health.
Dental Treatment For Gum Disease
Dental treatment options for gingivitis include:
- Professional teeth cleaning, which helps to remove plaque and tartar buildup.
- Scaling, which helps to remove tartar accumulated above and below the gum line.
- Root planning, which helps to remove infected parts of the tooth’s supporting tissue and smoothen any rough spots.
- Laser treatment, which may be used as a gentler alternative to scaling and planing (it causes less pain and bleeding).
- In serious cases, surgical treatment is necessary, which may be either flap surgery where the gum is lifted back for plaque removal and then sutured back in place, or a bone and tissue graft to replace severely damaged sections of the teeth and jaw.
The treatment for gum disease can be extensive and stressful, so do your part at keeping it at bay by brushing, flossing, eating right, and visiting your dentist regularly!
Author: Dr Amruta Patel is a warm and compassionate dentist caring for the community of San Antonio, TX. She practices at All About Smiles, where she provides cosmetic braces, endodontic treatments, implants, and veneers, as well as basic general dental services. Outside of practicing dentistry, Dr. Patel enjoys spending time with her husband and two dogs.