Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is the inflammation and infection of gums. This sounds unpleasant, but it’s more common than you think! About 47.2 percent of adults age 30 and older have some it in some way.1And aside from cavities, gum disease is the biggest threat to dental health. It’s not a bad idea to know the best natural treatments.
Types Of Gum Disease
Minor gum disease is called gingivitis. It can be easily treated at home with brushing, flossing, and antibacterial mouthwash. However, without treatment, gingivitis turns into periodontitis. This severe form makes the gums pull away from the teeth, creating infected pockets.
Over time, the infection can spread to the bones and cause tooth loss.2
Who Gets Gum Disease?
Anyone can get gum disease. Our mouths are already full of bacteria! If you don’t regularly brush and floss your teeth, the bacteria will thrive and cause an infection.
The condition is more common with age. Roughly 70.1 adults over 65 have the disease, but it affects men more than women, reaching rates of 56.4 percent versus 38.4 percent.3
Additional risk factors include smoking, poor nutrition, chronic stress, and teeth grinding or clenching. Certain medicines, like birth control and anti-depressants, may also increase the chances. Diabetes, heart disease, and other inflammatory conditions can also worsen gum health. Sometimes, it simply runs in the family.4
Symptoms Of Gum Disease
Typically, symptoms don’t up until the condition has advanced. You might have gum disease and not even know it.
- Swollen, red, or tender gums
- Mouth pain
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away
- Mouth sores
- Gums that pull away from the teeth
- Loose or separating teeth
- Pus in between teeth
- Changes in the way you bite or how dentures fit5
Natural Treatments For Gum Disease
Often, dentists prescribe an antimicrobial mouthwash with chlorhexidine. While it gets the job done, this treatment is extremely harsh, causing irritation and tooth discoloration.6
To avoid these side effects, check out these three natural treatments.
1. Coconut Oil
Have you tried oil pulling with coconut oil? It might be trendy, but this tradition has been around for ages. Coconut oil is a natural antibacterial, so it can reduce both plaque formation and gingivitis.7
Oil pulling is easy to do. After waking up and before brushing your teeth, put 1 to 2 tablespoons in your mouth. Swish around for 10 to 20 minutes, and don’t swallow. Spit out and rinse with water.
2. Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree oil is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Together, these benefits make it a top treatment for gum disease.
In a 2017 Italian study, researchers observed how four different mouthwashes affected gingivitis. The one with tea tree oil worked just as great as chlorhexidine! Better yet, there were no unwanted side effects.8
3. Lemongrass Essential Oil
Lemongrass also works against bacteria and inflammation. It even has analgesic activity, meaning that it can relieve the pain of gum disease.
According to a 2015 study, lemongrass oil mouthwash is as effective as chlorhexidine. The oil suppresses bacterial growth at a concentration of less than or equal to 2 percent. Plus, the active component citral fights oxidative stress.9
How To Make Essential Oil Mouthwash
Mix 1 ¼ cups distilled water with 6 drops tea tree or lemongrass oil. Add 6 drops peppermint oil for flavor. Store in a sterilized bottle, away from sun and warmth. Swish around like a normal mouthwash, but don’t swallow.
Preventing gum disease is easy. Every day, brush and floss to keep bacteria in check. These treatments can be used on the daily, too. Additionally, visit the dentist at least once a year.10
|↑1, ↑3, ↑10||Periodontal Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑2||Gum Disease. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑4||Gum Disease Risk Factors. American Academy of Periodontology.|
|↑5||Gum Disease Symptoms. American Academy of Periodontology.|
|↑6||Haghgoo, Roza, Majid Mehran, Elahe Afshari, Hamide Farajian Zadeh, and Motahare Ahmadvand. “Antibacterial effects of different concentrations of Althaea officinalis root extract versus 0.2% chlorhexidine and penicillin on Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus (in vitro).” Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry 7, no. 4 (2017): 180.|
|↑7||Peedikayil, Faizal C., Prathima Sreenivasan, and Arun Narayanan. “Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis—A preliminary report.” Nigerian medical journal: journal of the Nigeria Medical Association 56, no. 2 (2015): 143.|
|↑8||SALVATORI, C., L. BARCHI, F. GUZZO, and M. GARGARI. “A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF ANTIBACTERIAL AND ANTI-INFLAMMATORY EFFECTS OF MOUTHRINSE CONTAINING TEA TREE OIL.” ORAL & Implantology 10, no. 1 (2017).|
|↑9||Dany, Subha Soumya, Pritam Mohanty, Pradeep Tangade, Prashant Rajput, and Manu Batra. “Efficacy of 0.25% lemongrass oil mouthwash: A three arm prospective parallel clinical study.” Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR 9, no. 10 (2015): ZC13.|