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Gum Disease

If you’ve noticed you’re a little longer in the tooth lately, the cause may well be gingivitis – the first sign of periodontal disease. Periodontal means ‘around the tooth’ and refers to any disorder of the gums and jawbone. Although located in the mouth, periodontal disease has more global health implications. The inflammatory toxins created by the bacteria responsible are involved in heart disease, diabetes and even miscarriages. If you don’t attend promptly to gum disease, your path may be strewn with discarded teeth. Yours. There are many natural methods for the treatment and prevention of gum disease.

Symptoms

  • Bright red or purple gums.
  • Swollen gums.
  • Bleeding gums, particularly when brushing teeth.
  • Gums tender to the touch.
  • Bad breath.
  • Bad taste in the mouth.

What causes it?

  • Gingivitis is initiated by dental plaque, a biofilm produced by bacteria that coats the teeth and gums. A slothful approach to dental hygiene will increase the growth of plaque and hence gum disease.
  • The first sign of scurvy is bleeding gums. Although this blight of 18th century sailors is less common nowadays, many people do not eat sufficient vitamin C on a daily basis, creating a sub-clinical scurvy effect.
  • Faulty dental work.
  • Mouth breathing. Breathing through the mouth dries up saliva – our first line of defence against bacteria. Saliva contains antibacterial enzymes and acids.
  • Tobacco smoking is associated with susceptibility to periodontal disease because smoke decreases oxygenation of the gum cells.
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy.
  • Eating too many soft foods. Vigorous chewing increases circulation to the gums.

What to do

Diet

  • Avoid sugar. Bacteria thrive on sugar. Bacteria produce plaque. Plaque causes gum disease.
  • The polyphenols in green tea are effective against the bacteria behind gum disease. Drink 2 to 3 cups a day.
  • Eat foods rich in vitamin C daily such as citrus, berries, broccoli, capsicum, kiwifruit and quandongs.
  • Chewing crunchy food like raw apples and carrots, seeds and nuts, can help in the prevention and treatment of gingivitis. It’s a case of use it or lose it – or should that be chew it or lose it? Chewing on fresh, crunchy food massages the gums, increasing the blood flow to the area and boosting local immune response. Chew each mouthful well. One study showed that eating a raw apple has been found to be 30 per cent more effective than an immediate brushing. Chewing also increases the flow of saliva.
  • Spending 5 minutes chewing gum containing xylitol after each meal will also do the trick. Xylitol is a naturally occurring compound that has an antibacterial action. Particularly effective against the bacteria responsible for tooth decay (strep mutans), it can also reduce the likelihood of gingivitis.

Remedies

  • Herbs that can help promote blood flow and healing to the gums include bilberry, ginkgo and prickly ash in tablet, tincture or tea form.
  • Various herbal toothpastes contain gum-healing and strengthening herbs such as sage, thyme, echinacea, ratannhia and myrrh.
  • Grapeseed extract and resveratrol are two antioxidant-rich supplements that can help keep gingivitis at bay.
  • Vitamin C plays a vital role in maintaining collagen, the grist of gum tissue. If your diet is lacking in fresh fruit and vegetables, gingivitis could be a very early indicator of scurvy, the classic vitamin-C deficiency disease. Take 1 g of vitamin C daily, but not the chewable tablets as the ascorbic acid can affect dental enamel. Take in powder or standard tablet form with added bioflavonoids.
    • CoQ10, a coenzyme vital for improving oxygenation to all cells is an outstanding treatment for gingivitis. Take 2 capsules (50 mg) daily, until symptoms clear, then 1 capsule daily as a preventative. A clever way to get the CoQ10 straight to the site of the action is to squeeze the contents of a capsule onto your gums and massage in using your finger or a soft brush. Even once a week will help.
  • Gingivitis indicates a bacterial problem, so take all the usual natural antibiotics to boost immunity such as vitamin C, zinc, andrographis, cat’s claw, olive leaf, echinacea and garlic.
  • Rinse and spit with dilute colloidal silver.
  • Propolis mouthwash is antiseptic and slightly anaesthetic. Use it once or twice a day until the problem is resolved.

Other

  • Take your teeth to a dentist for a check-up and thorough cleaning every 6 months to keep teeth free of plaque.
  • Floss after every meal.
  • Electric oscillating toothbrushes are twice as effective at loosening plaque than conventional hand-held brushes. Check with your dentist or dental hygienist as to the best brush for you and don’t be too humble to ask for instructions on proper brushing technique – being an enthusiastic scrubber may not help your cause.
  • Gum massage improves circulation and can help the healing process. Try a vigorous gum massage twice a day for 3 to 4 minutes with your finger, a soft brush or a well-chewed twig. With a little pressure, slowly press down in regular small circles, covering an area over both gum and teeth. You can massage with various unguents such as distilled extract of witch hazel, cooled sage tea, diluted apple cider vinegar, sea salt, the white portion of a lemon peel or a drop of tea-tree or eucalyptus oil.
  • Dip your toothbrush in a solution of ½ hydrogen peroxide, ½ water, then dip it in baking soda and smear the mixture along the gum-line and into all the crevices between the teeth and gums.
  • Butyeko breathing emphasises nose breathing, rather than mouth breathing. Breathing through your mouth decreases saliva, which contains enzymes and substances that are antibiotic, deactivating the bacteria causing dental plaque and gum disease.

At a glance

Diet

  • Avoid sugar. Sugar feeds the very bacteria that cause gum disease.
  • Eat foods rich in vitamin C daily.
  • Chew your food well. It will massage the gums and stimulate the flow of saliva that contains bacteriocidal enzymes.
  • Green tea contains polyphenols that protect against gum disease. Drink 2–3 cups a day.

Remedies

  • Herbs for gum disease include bilberry, ginkgo, prickly ash, andrographis, cat’s claw, olive leaf, echinacea and garlic.
  • Take a tablet of vitamin C along with bioflavonoids.
  • Co Q10 is brilliant for treating gingivitis. Take daily. You can also massage the contents onto your gums.
  • Propolis mouthwash is antibacterial. Use it once or twice a day.

Other

  • Buteyko breathing reduces mouth breathing. Mouth breathing creates the environment for more plaque forming bacteria that cause gum disease. Nose breathing is best.
  • Good dental hygiene is key to preventing and treating gum disease. This includes regular visits to the dentist, together with brushing and flossing at least twice a day. Promise?
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