DefinitionGum disease is an inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, it can affect the bone that supports your teeth, eventually leading to tooth loss. The disease is caused by the bacteria in plaque when it is allowed to multiply. Plaque is a colorless, sticky film that forms on your teeth and gums. It is hard to see, but is always forming in your mouth. Proper oral care, including daily flossing and brushing, removes plaque from your teeth and gums, but when proper oral hygiene is neglected, then plaque builds up. The bacteria can then infect your teeth and gums, and eventually the bone and gum tissue supporting the teeth. When this happens, your teeth may become loose and either fall out or need to be removed. The disease most commonly affects adults, but can occur at any age.
Stages of the DiseaseThe disease progresses through three stages:
- Gingivitis: The beginning stage of disease, this is an inflammation of the gums because of plaque collecting at the gum line. The plaque creates poisons or toxins that irritate the gums. If you have gingivitis, you may experience bleeding when brushing or flossing your teeth. The damage is usually reversible at this stage because it hasn’t affected the connective tissue and bone that support the teeth.
- Periodontitis: As the disease progresses, the bone and connective tissue that support the teeth are damaged. Pockets can form in the gums which then trap food and plaque, worsening the problem. At this stage, the damage is irreversible, but proper treatment helps prevent additional damage.
- Advanced Periodontitis: This is the final stage of disease, in which the bone and connective tissue are destroyed, leaving your teeth without proper support. The teeth may then shift or become loose, leading to changes in your bite and possible loss of teeth. Aggressive treatment is required at this stage to attempt to prevent tooth loss.
Signs and SymptomsEarly detection is critical to minimize damage to your teeth and gums, but the disease can be difficult to notice because sometimes it is painless. Knowing the symptoms to look for and seeing your dentist right away if you notice any of them is an important part of early detection. Common signs and symptoms include the following:
- Sore, red, or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Receding gum line or gums that move away from the teeth
- Teeth that seem longer due to the gums receding
- Consistent bad taste in the mouth or bad breath
- Loose adult teeth
- Pus around the gums or teeth
- Changes in your bite
- Pockets created by the gums separating or pulling away from the teeth
TreatmentProper oral hygiene usually takes care of the problems of gingivitis. Brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing daily helps prevent the build up of plaque that causes gum inflammation. Visiting your dentist for a professional cleaning twice a year is also an important part of oral care and helps reverse the damage of gingivitis. Your dentist or hygienist will remove plaque from your teeth and gums as well as scale your teeth to remove any plaque that has hardened into tartar. Tartar is impossible to remove on your own, so regular professional cleanings are critical to good oral health. If the disease has progressed, then root planing may be helpful. During this procedure irregularities on the tooth roots are smoothed to make it more difficult for plaque to become established. As the disease becomes more severe, advanced treatment by your dentist is required to attempt to minimize damage.
DietA careful diet can aid in your overall oral health and help in the treatment of the disease. A diet that includes a high amount of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy fats can help you in your fight against gingivitis. The following foods help reverse the damage of gingivitis:
- Wild-caught fish: Fish that contain high levels of omega-3s, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, can help reduce gum inflammation.
- Vegetable juice: Fresh juice from vegetables provides essential nutrients and also helps reduce inflammation of the gums.
- Xylitol: Xylitol is found in many chewing gums and helps to prevent bacterial build up.
- Raw apples and vegetables: These crunchy foods can help clean teeth.
- Fat soluble vitamins: Coconut, raw milk, bone broth, beef liver, grass-fed animals, and other foods high in fat soluble vitamins can help your body fight gingivitis.
There are also foods that contribute to poor oral health, including:
- Sugar: The bacteria in your mouth love sugar, so minimizing the amount in your diet helps your gum health.
- Fruit juices: Juice is often high in sugar and can coat the teeth, providing a feast for bacteria.
- Processed foods: These foods usually contain high amounts of additives and sugar that contribute to bacteria growth.
- Grains: Unsprouted and unfermented grains contain phytic acid which breaks down into sugar quickly.
- Hydrogenated oils: Soybean oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, canola oil, and other hydrogenated oils can contribute to gum inflammation.
Natural RemediesIn addition to brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings, the following natural remedies can help with the disease:
- Dead Sea Salt: The high mineral content provides numerous benefits to oral health.
- Essential Oils: Many have antibacterial properties.
- Clove Oil: The antibacterial properties help fight gingivitis.
- Holy Basil Oil: A French essential oil that helps freshen breath.
- Peppermint Oil: Another French essential oil that contributes to oral health.
- Coconut Oil: Oil pulling or a coconut oil based toothpaste helps treat gingivitis and contribute to oral health.
Gum disease is a serious condition that can affect anyone, but by catching the disease early you can minimize the damage. Proper oral care and natural remedies help you return your mouth to a healthy state.
About Oral Essentials:
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