Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum tissue and it’s an extremely common disease that can lead to receding gums. Gingivitis is a real epidemic – about 95% of all adults suffer from periodontal disease of some degree during their lifetime.
The source of the inflammation is bacteria that inhabit the oral cavity, infect the teeth (plaque), hardens and become tartar, so one of the best ways to prevent gingivitis is to get rid of the bacteria.
This article will discuss the symptoms of gingivitis, the risks of severe gingivitis, and the best home remedies to treat gingivitis.
Gingivitis is characterized by redness and swelling in the gum tissue, bleeding while brushing the teeth, tenderness or pain in the gums, a bad taste in the mouth, bad breath, formation of pus between the teeth and gums and more. Depending on where the gum inflammation occurs, it can also cause pain on one side of your throat.
Chronic gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, which is more severe gingivitis that can lead to teeth loss and receding gums. Read on to find out how to naturally prevent and treat gingivitis to avoid teeth loss and receding gums.
Periodontitis – a Silent Killer
Periodontitis is a silent disease, and frequently the only visible sign is seeing blood in the sink following tooth brushing, until the disease reaches an advanced stage when teeth move position or become mobile. Other symptoms include:
- Swollen gums
- Bright red or purplish gums
- Gums that feel tender when touched
- New spaces developing between your teeth
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Bad breath
- Bad taste in your mouth
- Loose teeth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
Periodontitis is ‘kick started’ by bacterial plaque accumulating at or below the gum boundary with the teeth, which triggers inflammation both locally and in other parts of the body.
The bacteria can also enter the blood where they stimulate a protective response from the liver and also excessive release of damaging antibacterial agents from the white blood cells. Both responses aggravate the inflammation, which may damage blood vessel walls and other distant organs/tissues.
There is good evidence that periodontitis affects blood sugar levels in diabetes patients, and makes heart and kidney complications of diabetes worse.
Periodontitis is often called the silent killer as it was found that prolonged inflammation and gum infection increase the risk of:
- Atherosclerosis – The inflammation created by periodontitis can increase the build-up of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and on the artery walls.
- Diabetes – periodontitis may trigger type-2 diabetes.
- Heart attacks and heart disease – The prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in patients with periodontitis is 25–50% higher than in healthy individuals.
- Stroke – There is evidence that periodontitis is associated with increased risk of stroke.
- Cancer – Several studies have shown an increased risk of cancer with periodontal disease.
- Premature births and miscarriages.
How to treat gingivitis?
To ensure healthy teeth and gums and to prevent gingivitis or to treat it after it appeared, it is important to get rid of the bacteria that cause the inflammation, maintain high oral hygiene level and treat gum problems as soon as you notice the first symptoms.
Natural Remedies for Gingivitis
A simple remedy for gingivitis is using salt. Salt is not only a natural disinfectant, but it also removes any swelling from the tissues. Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in ½ cup warm water, mix and rinse your mouth well with the solution for about a minute. It is recommended to repeat the treatment several times a day.
Turmeric has a long history in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine in treating many ailments. Turmeric contains curcumin, a key ingredient known for its antioxidant, anti-viral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
The Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine talks about the role of curcumin in oral health and suggests topical application of a paste made from 1 tsp of turmeric with ½ tsp of salt and ½ tsp of mustard oil to provide relief from gingivitis and periodontitis as well as pain and swelling.
It is recommended to rub your teeth and gums with this paste twice daily. You can also replace mustard oil with coconut oil or vitamin E oil – see more about them later on.
The above journal also mentions a study in which a turmeric mouth wash was used to effectively treat plaque and gingivitis. The turmeric mouthwash was prepared by dissolving 10 mg of curcumin extract in 100 ml of distilled water and 0.005% of flavoring agent peppermint oil.
A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and food chemistry on April 2013 suggests sage as a beneficial herb to treat gingivitis due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Brew some fresh sage leaves in a glass of boiling water for about 10 minutes, let it cool off and gurgle the infusion around your mouth 2-3 times a day. Alternatively, rub sage leaf on the gums and focus on the area of the inflammation. See also how to make sage and sea salt tooth powder.
Aloe vera has many healing properties. Similar to its use on skin, aloe vera is used to cleanse and soothe teeth and gums. The Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology published a study on its July 2013 issue in which it was concluded that aloe vera mouthwash can be used as an add-on therapy for treating plaque-induced gingivitis.
Another study published on March 2014 on Oral Health and Dental Management also indicated that aloevera may prove to be an effective mouthwash owing to its ability in reducing periodontal indices. The results demonstrated a significant reduction of gingival bleeding and plaque indices as compared to placebo group.
Apply a small amount of aloe vera with your finger on the affected area. You can use natural aloe vera gel that can be purchased at any pharmacy or the aloe vera plant itself if you have it on hand.
Aloe vera is a common medicinal herb and is useful for other ailments. If you want to learn more about aloe vera as well as other herbs, you can find more useful information in my e-book the Herbal Remedies Guide. This guide will teach you how to treat common ailments using herbs.
You can fight gingivitis with honey due to its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Apply a little bit of natural raw honey directly on the infection.
Especially it’s worth mentioning the strong anti-bacterial properties of Manuka honey. A study published on the Journal of The International Academy of Periodontology on April 2004 found that Manuka honey with antibacterial activity rated UMF 15 could be used to reduce dental plaque and gingival bleeding.
Garlic is known to have antibiotic effects due to its main medical component called allicin.
The journal of Medicinal Food published a study on its November 2001 issue that tested the antimicrobial activity of garlic allicin on oral pathogens associated with dental caries and periodontitis. Allicin was found effective against all the tested bacteria, and it was concluded that these results support the traditional medicinal use of garlic, and suggest the use of allicin for alleviating dental diseases.
Some references recommend crushing one or two cloves of garlic, wait few minutes for the allicin to form, and place them on the infected gums to treat gingivitis. However because neat garlic may burn the skin, it’s best to mix it with honey, olive/coconut oil or aloe vera to prevent further damage to the gums.
Coconut oil / Vitamin E oil / Olive oil / Neem oil
- Virgin coconut oil has anti-bacterial properties and can be used to treat a lot of skin infections.
- Vitamin E oil can do a lot of the same things.
Rub some virgin coconut oil, or vitamin E oil on your gums to get rid of gingivitis.
Neem bark and its leaves have active ingredients that have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It strengthens the immune system and the body’s resistance to infections. You can add a few drops of neem oil to coconut or olive oil and apply it to the affected area.
You can also use olive oil that is anti-inflammatory due to many of its healthy components. Take one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and swish it around your mouth for a few minutes and then spit. Don’t swallow it as it contains toxins from the mouth. You may also apply it to gums and rub or massage the gums gently. For best results, repeat the process three times a day.
The Ayurvedic method of oil pulling is a time-tested method for mouth cleanliness and is a wonderful way to maintain a clean mouth that is plaque-free and gingivitis-free. People who practice oil pulling absolutely swear by the great benefits oil pulling has done to their oral health, such as brightening their teeth, preventing white spots on teeth, treating bleeding gums and gingivitis.
Oil puling can reduce plaque and gingivitis – A 2009 study was conducted to compare oil pulling and chlorhexidine (a synthetic compound used as a mild antiseptic) in adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis. Both oil pulling and chlorhexidine mouthwash were effective against gingivitis.
You can find detailed information about oil pulling and how to do it in my previous article why you should start oil pulling today.
Clove / Tea tree essential oil
When you do the oil treatment above to fight gingivitis, you can add a drop or two of clove oil or tea tree oil to the oil you are using. Tea tree oil is highly antiseptic, and clove oil can fight infections as well. It has antibacterial properties, and is very effective in treating gum disease.
You can also prepare a mouthwash by mixing a few drops of the oil in a cup of water. Make sure not to swallow the mouthwash.
If you are interested to learn more about essential oils you can find useful information in my e-book Magical Aromatherapy. This e-book will help you to discover the power of essential oils and the most effective ways to use them.
Chamomile / Ginger / Cinnamon tea
Ginger improves inflammatory condition, and chamomile may help soothe mouth inflammations and keep gums healthy. Cinnamon has strong anti-bacterial effects and has been known to treat infections.
To relieve gingivitis pain and help in the heeling process drink a lot of these teas. Make a tea, take a sip and pass on the gums. You can also gargle the tea as a mouthwash.
According to a study, baking soda has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that can help reduce infections.
Since baking soda is alkaline, it neutralizes the acids in the mouth, thus reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Baking soda can also help to keep your mouth free of bacteria that can cause plaqueand dental cavities. Apart from using baking soda as a teeth-whitening toothpaste, you can make a refreshing natural antibacterial mouthwash by mixing baking soda and water.
To make a mouthwash with baking soda, you should fill a cup with water and add 1/4 tsp. baking soda. Mix well until all the baking soda is dissolved. Swish the baking soda mouthwash around your mouth for 30-60 seconds to kill off plaque-causing bacteria. Spit out the mixture, then rinse your mouth with fresh water. Use this homemade mouthwash every time when you clean your teeth.
I’ve already mentioned that cashew nut can eliminate tooth decay, acne, tuberculosis and pneumonia.
Supplements That Help to Treat Gingivitis
The June 2015 issue of the Journal of Periodontology mentions a study concluding that Lactobacillus reuteri-containing probiotic supplementation might be useful in patients with chronic periodontitis. There are other reasons to take probiotics.
Coenzyme Q10 has a strong antioxidant effect and improves the oxygen supply to the tissues of the gums and helps in preventing and curing gingivitis.
The Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology published a study on its October 2012 issue concluding the promising results that were obtained after application of Co-Q10 for treating plaque induced gingivitis.
I’ve already mentioned the health benefits of chlorella. This green algae helps to relieve, heal and treat gingivitis. Chlorella contains a compound that can enhance immune function and stimulate tissue repair.
Avoid consuming simple sugars and alcohol as they increase the accumulation of plaque on the teeth and weaken the immune system. Instead, consume foods rich in fiber such as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.
The fiber doesn’t attack the bacteria on your teeth but it helps to improve your body’s immune system so you are in a better position to fight bacteria that causes gingivitis.
Brushing your teeth and flossing
Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day. Daily brushing reduces gum infections by 60%, and although you may have bleeding gums, it is important to brush your teeth thoroughly with a soft fiber toothbrush.
Brush in circular motions on the border between the gums and the teeth so the bristles will penetrate the space between the teeth and gums and will remove the leftover food and plaque. In addition to brushing your teeth with a brush, it is recommended to use a dental floss to clean between the teeth to prevent food from sticking between the teeth resulting in a favorite area for bacteria. Make sure you are not making these common teeth brushing mistakes.