Poor oral hygiene can spell doom for your teeth and gums. According to the American Dental Association, chronic periodontitis or advanced gum disease affects as many as 47.2 percent of people over 30 in the United States.1 Inflammation of the gums or gingivitis can cause your once healthy gums to become swollen and even bleed. Left unchecked, this can progress to periodontitis. You will develop pockets in your gums and your teeth will pull away from the gums. Plaque may spread and connective tissue or bones may break down as a result of the toxins as well as the immune response from your body. Over time, you may even lose your teeth altogether.2
So how do you make your gums healthy again? And how can you prevent teeth or gum problems in the first place? The answer lies in some simple oral hygiene tips and a few easy-to-put-together home remedies.
Tips To Get Healthy Gums And Strong Teeth
1. Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night before you go to sleep.
- Floss daily before you brush.
- Stop smoking, it helps keep your gums and teeth in better shape.
- Get an annual dental check. If that isn’t possible, ensure you visit your dentist at least once in 2 years.
- Get your teeth cleaned every 6 months if you are prone to plaque buildup. The dentist will help remove it for you. This will go a long way in keeping up oral hygiene and preventing gum disease.
- Use an electric toothbrush if you wish. A manual one can do the job just as well, but if you struggle to clean your teeth thoroughly with a manual brush, invest in an electric toothbrush instead.
- Choose toothpaste wisely. Speak to your dentist or pick one that helps prevent tooth decay and offers adequate protection to your teeth.
- Replace your toothbrush every few months because one that is worn out can’t clean your teeth properly. You should aim to change it at least every 3 to 4 months or so.3 4
2. Eat For Your Teeth
Certain foods can damage your teeth and gums and others can protect them. Knowing what to eat can help you ward off problems with oral health.5
- Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Your diet should be a balanced one that contains whole grains and lean meat and fish as well. This will ensure you get all the nutrients you need for good gums and teeth.
- Nibble on some cheese if you’ve eaten something sweet or something that’s tart or acidic. This can offset the effects of the decay-causing foods.
- Consume daily recommended levels of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. Calcium is needed for strong jaw bones, phosphorus to strengthen those bones that hold your teeth in place, and vitamin D to aid absorption of these minerals. Get your calcium from dairy like yogurt and cheese or brown rice, broccoli, salmon, beans, or peas. You’ll be able to get phosphorus through nuts, soy bean, wheat germ, poultry, fish, citrus fruit, eggs, tomatoes, and grapes. Vitamin D can be generated by exposing your skin to sunlight every day or eating dairy, eggs, fortified cereals, or oily fish like sardines and tuna.6
3. Watch Those Sweets!
If you can overcome a sweet tooth and cut intake of sweet treats, you have a lower risk of developing cavities. Harmful bacteria in your mouth digest sugar to produce acid that leaches minerals and degrades tooth enamel, resulting in the buildup of plaque. Without the protective shiny outer coating, your teeth become sensitive and prone to decay.7 The buildup of bacteria in decaying teeth spill over and affect your gums as well.
Here are some tips on sugar intake8:
- Cut down intake of fruit juices and other sweet drinks. Even though fruit juice may seem nutritious, the natural sugars in it can cause tooth decay.
- Besides the sugar in sweet food like candy, remember there are hidden sugars in processed foods like chips and drinks like sweet sodas. So cut down consumption of these as well.
- Eat your sweets with meals and not as snacks between meals to limit damage to gums and teeth.
- Reduce the sugar you have in your tea or coffee. For children, avoid sweetened syrups and sugar with milk. Use fresh fruit blitzed together with milk instead.
- Have fresh fruit instead of dried fruit which leaves a sweet residue on your teeth.
How To Care For Your Gums Naturally
Here are some simple home remedies and natural treatments that can improve gum health and prevent gum disease.
Cardamom, a traditional spice used in Asian cuisines, is also a good antimicrobial remedy for dental caries. One study identified its potential but said the exact dosage of cardamom extracts needs to be investigated further.9 For now, you could add cardamom to your tea or coffee, or chew on some as a mouth freshener after meals.
Drink Pomegranate Juice
The polyphenols, tannins, and other antioxidants found in pomegranate juice can help cut the buildup of plaque. These antioxidants can inhibit the colony formation of bacteria that cause plaque, can strengthen your gums, and possibly even help fasten loose teeth.10
Use Basil Seeds
Basil seeds are antibacterial, antiviral, and antimicrobial, making them invaluable as a mouth freshener. Use them to protect yourself against plaque, bad breath, or cavities.11 Soak some so they acquire a gelatinous outer layer and make a dessert with fruit and coconut milk, as you would with chia seeds. You could also put them in smoothies or eat them with yogurt after soaking.
Sip On Green Tea
Having green tea can help inhibit periodontal pathogens and prevent your gums from being worn away by these pathogens or bacteria. The antioxidant catechin in the tea is said to have this beneficial effect on your oral health. In one study of Japanese men who took green tea daily, consumption of green tea was found to be inversely related to periodontal disease. The positive effects, while good, were still modest. Which is why you’ll need to couple green tea consumption with general good oral hygiene.12
The topical use of antimicrobial cloves or clove oil mixed with a carrier oil like edible extra virgin coconut oil can help prevent gingivitis and also ease dental pain. The spice has been used for treating toothaches in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine for centuries. It is said to stop tooth decay and also alleviate the bad breath associated with halitosis from gum disease.13
Try Oil Pulling
Ayurveda has a tradition of oral hygiene that includes routines like cleaning the teeth or dantadhavana as well as kavala or gargling. But something less common for most people is the practice of oil pulling. This routine can help keep your oral cavity clean and avoid diseases of the gums. Simply take a little sesame oil and rinse your mouth with it as soon as you wake up every morning. Swirl the oil around and keep it in your mouth as long as you can. A few minutes is ideal. This helps keeps plaque away and has antimicrobial benefits.14
Gum And Dental Care For Children And Infants
While the same dental health and oral hygiene rules apply to your kids as well, you should also take some additional precautions.15
- Supervise your child’s toothbrushing till they are at least 7 years.
- Make it a point to have regular annual visits to the dentist for the children as well.
- Use age-appropriate toothbrushes that have small heads and soft nylon bristles.
- Avoid adding sugar to an infant’s drinks.
- Give snacks of vegetables, cheese, or even fruit but not sweets and desserts.
|↑1||Gum disease. American Dental Association.|
|↑2||Periodontal Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.|
|↑3||Dental care – adult. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑4||Gum disease – Treatment. National Health Service.|
|↑5, ↑8||Periodontitis. Dental Health Services Victoria.|
|↑6||Calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus. Dental Health Services Victoria.|
|↑7||Sheiham, Aubrey, and W. P. T. James. “Diet and dental caries the pivotal role of free sugars reemphasized.” Journal of dental research 94, no. 10 (2015): 1341-1347.|
|↑9||Aneja, K. R., and Radhika Joshi. “Antimicrobial activity of Amomum subulatum and Elettaria cardamomum against dental caries causing microorganisms.” Ethnobotanical Leaflets 2009, no. 7 (2009): 3.|
|↑10||Sowmya Kote, Dr, and Dr Sunder Kote. “Effect of pomegranate juice on dental plaque microorganisms (streptococci and lactobacilli).” Ancient science of life 31, no. 2 (2011): 49.|
|↑11||Parikh, Nisha H., and Charmy S. Kothari. “Phytochemical Analysis and Total Phenolic and Flavonoid Contents Determination of Methanolic Extract of Ocimum basilicum L seed.” International Journal of PharmTech Research 9, no. 4 (2016): 215-219.|
|↑12||Kushiyama, Mitoshi, Yoshihiro Shimazaki, Masatoshi Murakami, and Yoshihisa Yamashita. “Relationship between intake of green tea and periodontal disease.” Journal of Periodontology 80, no. 3 (2009): 372-377.|
|↑13||Bhowmik, Debjit, KP Sampath Kumar, Akhilesh Yadav, Shweta Srivastava, Shravan Paswan, and Amit Sankar Dutta. “Recent trends in Indian traditional herbs Syzygium aromaticum and its health benefits.” Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry 1, no. 1 (2012): 13-23.|
|↑14||Reddy, P. Sudhakar, and M. D. Beena. “DINACHARYA MODALITIES-A REVIEW ON EVIDENCE BASED RESEARCH WS R TO ORAL HYGIENE.” International Journal of Ayurveda and Pharma Research 2, no. 2 (2015).|
|↑15||Children’s teeth. The British Dental Health Foundation.|