Reduce Your Chances of Gingivitis

Mar 31, 20230 comments

The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body, but did you know dental health has an impact on overall health? Poor dental health is associated with cardiovascular disease. In addition, poor oral health is associated with an increased risk of endocarditis, cellulitis, and birth complications including gestational diabetes, miscarriage, and stillbirth. Approximately 50% of American adults have gingivitis, and 80% of adults have had experience with periodontal disease.

What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis refers to inflammation in the gingival tissue. This is generally caused by bacteria; over 400 different species have been linked to dental inflammation and disease. Gingivitis, if left unchecked, leads to periodontal disease which is inflammation and degenerative changes in the tissues. Those who grind their teeth, are pregnant, or regularly smoke cigarettes are at a higher risk of developing gingivitis.

Time to Get Your Brush Out
We’ve all heard brushing your teeth is critical to oral health, but did you know electric toothbrushes are better than manual types? Several research studies have concluded that electric toothbrushes are better at removing plaque, potentially due to the oscillating brush head and/or an acoustic component present in some toothbrushes.

Another manual method to remove plaque from your teeth involves using a stick or leaf. Neem sticks and mango leaves are used in Ayurvedic mouth cleansing methods. Miswak comes from Salvadora persica trees and is used primarily in the Middle East. All three of these methods were found to be gentle on tooth enamel and have antibacterial qualities to help prevent dental caries. When using sticks for cleaning your teeth, it’s important to use them properly so as not to hurt your gums.

Finally, let’s not forget about flossing which reaches in between your teeth to remove excess food particles and plaque. With all manual methods, it’s important not to use too much pressure as this can be damaging to the gums and teeth.

Ways to Naturally Support a Healthy Mouth
Dietary Options. Minerals such as calcium and phosphorus are important to maintaining tooth structure. Iron and zinc are important to help saliva maintain its protective pH. Saliva, when produced in adequate amounts, can help protect teeth from damage due to poor dietary choices. Adding vitamin C to your diet helps maintain and repair connective tissue in the gums. Vitamin A helps maintain epithelial integrity which helps prevent gum damage and infection. Additionally, it’s recommended to avoid or drink sparingly acidic beverages including soda pop as these are more damaging to surfaces in the mouth. Sugar should also be consumed sparingly, as it contributes to bacterial growth in the mouth.

Oral Rinse. Many different rinses that have been shown to support healthy gums. All the rinses listed here should be used once or twice daily by swishing a small amount in your mouth and then spitting it out into the sink. The most simple one is a salt rinse which has been shown to promote healthy connective tissue in the mouth. This can be made by adding one teaspoon of sodium chloride to one cup of water. Aloe vera juice is another simple rinse that can be used as a mouth rinse; research found it comparable to chlorhexidine, a common dental mouthwash. Other herbs such as lemongrass, sage (Salvia officinalis), and marigold (Calendula off.) have also been used with positive results.

Oil Pulling. This Ayurvedic practice involves swishing oil in the mouth to promote good oral health. Sunflower, sesame, coconut, or other oils are all great options. Oil pulling can help with bad breath, lowering bacterial counts in the oral cavity, and it also seems to lower gum inflammation. This is best done using one tablespoon of oil, then swish it, without swallowing, in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. Afterward, spit the oil into the trash as it can cause a build of oil in your plumbing if you spit it into the sink daily. Then, rinse your mouth well. If you are new to this practice, start swishing for 5 minutes at a time and work up to 15-20 minutes. This can be done a few times daily or weekly.

Herbal Gum. One final point to make is about chewing gums. It’s estimated roughly half the people who receive regular dental care use chewing gum or mints. While these gums may not prevent or treat gingivitis, they are commonly used to deal with bad breath, an early sign that gingivitis might be on the horizon. Chewing gums increase salivary flow and can mechanically clean the oral cavity. Studies showed chewing gums containing probiotics, zinc acetate, and magnolia bark were helpful.

Where the Professionals Fit In
To sum this up, there are many natural methods you can explore to help you craft a dental routine that fits your lifestyle. As always, if you have tooth pain, inflamed and/or bleeding gums, or very bad breath, you should seek professional assistance from your dentist.

Ajmera, Rachael. N.D. Revised Nov. 14, 2022.

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