Natural Remedies to Heal and Prevent Gum Disease
Natural Tooth Care
Tooth decay is not a natural, bodily process as many are lead to believe. It is caused by excessive bacteria and debris in the mouth that form into plaque that sticks to the teeth. Over time, this causes the enamel on the face of the teeth and the dentin underneath to begin to erode. Often times, this goes unnoticed until the process is very far gone, at which point tooth sensitivity and cavities occur.
Tooth decay is dependent on 3 factors: bacteria, the availability of sugars for the bacteria to feed on, and the strength of the tooth enamel. Poor nutrition is the leading cause of tooth decay, with those who consume large amounts of processed and refined carbohydrates at highest risk. Those who eat often without brushing between meals also put themselves at higher risk, regardless of the foods they choose.
Other factors include acidic saliva and some medical conditions that cause softening of the tooth enamel.
There are many ways, other than the obvious rinsing and brushing, to help prevent and reverse tooth decay.
Things You Should Do
- Eat raw fruits and vegetables daily. They are healthy for the body and the saliva. Minerals in raw produce keep the saliva from becoming too acidic. Acids are what soften enamel, leading to erosion.
- Brush and floss daily using an electric toothbrush. These are no longer as pricey as they used to be. I bought my Brushpoint Rechargeable Oral Care System for under $20. It is an electronic rotating toothbrush and comes with replacement heads, flossing attachments, and an attachment for cleaning under the gum line. I love it. Between this and daily oil pulling my teeth stay white without the need for harsh bleaching kits.
- Practice oil pulling daily. This is a ritual practiced in many Eastern countries that is beginning to gain popularity in the US. This practice pulls toxins from deep inside the gums and between the teeth, preventing and in some cases reversing gum disease. When I began this practice I was starting to see pink stains when I brushed, a sure sign that all is not well in gum land. Within two days, all bleeding and traces of pink stopped completely and they have not reoccurred. My gums are now a healthy pink and my teeth are whiter as well.
How to Oil Pull
Every morning, before eating or drinking, take approximately ½ to 1 tablespoon of olive or coconut oil and place it in your mouth. Gently swish and swirl the oil around your mouth, pushing between the teeth and pulling from side to side. Do this for a full 15 minutes taking extra care to not swallow the oil. The oil will mix with your saliva and as you continue to pull the oil it will remove toxins throughout the mouth. When you spit it out and discard it, the mixture will look filmy and white. Within a few days, you will notice gums stop bleeding, and your teeth start to whiten. There are many other health benefits associated with oil pulling as well, so it's a great habit to develop. I prefer coconut oil to olive oil because the taste is more palatable.
Have you Tried Oil Pulling Before?
Things to Avoid
- Avoiding carbonated soft drinks. Not only are they acidic, they are high in phosphates, which leech calcium from the tooth enamel. Calcium is vital for strong bones and soft drinks have been shown to not only damage teeth but contribute to increased risk of bone loss and osteoporosis.
- Vitamin C is great, especially during cold and flu season, but you should avoid chewable vitamin C supplements, which erode the enamel on the teeth. Stick to regular capsules when you need a boost.
- Don't brush too much! Too much of a good thing can also damage the teeth because it causes the gums to recede, exposing the root areas of the teeth. Thorough, two-minute brushing twice a day is sufficient. Between meals, quickly brush away particles with a very soft brush and then rinse with a mouthwash.
This is my favorite toothbrush. It runs on 2 AA batteries (included) and has a 2 minute timer. The bristles are the perfect strength and it comes with a replacement head. I got mine for about $13 prime - great investment and does a great job on my teeth without having to shell out the dough for a really expensive electric brush.
Herbal Remedies for Mouth Pain or Toothaches
If you have a toothache, clove oil can be applied to the affected tooth with a cotton swab to help reduce the pain. Goldenseal may also be applied in a similar fashion: place the cotton soaked with goldenseal onto the inflamed area and leave it overnight for up to 3 nights to help kill infection and reduce inflammation.
Sage is a great herb for oral care and it is in a variety of natural tooth care products. You can make your own sage toothpaste by grinding up dried sage into a powder and mixing with baking soda. Do only a little bit at a time to avoid dipping your toothbrush into the same container. Discard after a few days and start fresh.
To create a sage rinse, bring ¼ cup of dried, crushed sage leaves to a boil in a cup of water. Once it boils remove from the heat and allow it to steep for 30 minutes. Strain off the herbs and use the liquid to rinse with several times daily.
Anti-inflammatory herbs like astragalus, calendula, peppermint, and chamomile are also useful and can be taken as teas or supplements.
Gums inflamed? Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) and goldenseal supplements can be taken internally for brief periods to boost the immune system, fight infections, and cleanse the blood. Add a few drops of GSE to water and drink it a couple of times a day. Goldenseal is a very potent cleansing herb. It can be found in capsule form but should never be taken for longer than a week at a time.
Supplements for Preventing Gum and Periodontal Disease
- Probiotics: Acidophilus and other probiotics supply the body with friendly bacteria that boost the immune system. Those with tooth decay often have chronically taxed immune systems.
- Calcium and magnesium: Taken together these minerals help one another with absorption. Both are required for strong, healthy teeth.
- Co-enzyme Q10, or CoQ10: Provides the energy needed for the growth and repair of gum tissue and supports the immune system and detoxification of the body. If you ever have issues with bleeding gums between dental checkups, a daily CoQ10 supplement will help.
- Grapefruit seed extract: Has strong anti-inflammatory properties and is a vital antioxidant. Use a few drops per day in a homemade tonic, or mix a drop in with your toothpaste as you go to brush to kill germs.
CoQ10 is excellent for gum health and it also protects your heart and circulatory system. Dental disease is often symptomatic of other issues going on throughout the body. I take CoQ every single day. With that and oil pulling, my gums have never been healthier, despite having many dental issues when I was younger. I prefer the Doctor's Best supplements as I find they are better absorbed and work well at a good price.
Over the years, our daily habits can wreak havoc on our teeth. Tooth decay and periodontal disease are often the precursors to more serious illnesses. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, patients with periodontal disease have twice the risk of stroke and heart disease. Scary stuff, and all highly preventable with good daily oral hygiene habits.
© 2012 Christin Sander