Gum disease is a silent but deadly killer that affects nearly 50 percent of adults age 30 and over. If left untreated, it can result in heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes, as well as impacts to the mouth including gums that slowly begin to pull away from the teeth, causing them to sometimes fall out.
Also called periodontal disease, this infection of the mouth may lead to inflammation of the gums and bone that surrounds, as well as supports, our teeth. The early stages of gum disease, or gingivitis, are accompanied by swollen and reddish colored gums that sometimes bleed and are tender to the touch.
It’s generally caused by a bacterial infection in the mouth characterized by bad breath, painful chewing, tender and swollen gums, bleeding gums and sensitive teeth, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Though widespread, gum disease is very preventable, mainly through the practice of effective dental hygiene, such as brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Although, other risks factors can contribute to its prevalence, including smoking, diabetes, stress, heredity, crooked teeth, defective fillings, dry-mouth causing medications and immunodeficiencies.
Hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and the use of birth control pills may also contribute to gum disease.
The good news is, however, that gum disease can be treated through a large variety of natural remedies. Complete Health and Happiness, an educational website, offers seven natural ways to fight gum disease – all of which include easily accessible products:
(1) Aloe Vera
The anti-inflammatory properties of Aloe Vera make this plant the perfect natural remedy for treating any type of cut or burn, as well as tenderness caused by inflammation. The green gel found inside this plant is believed to be helpful in healing wounds and calming skin inflammation, according to Mayo Clinic.
In order to avoid harmful and unnecessary synthetic ingredients, the best form of Aloe Vera is straight from the plant. You can easily harvest it by cutting a small piece off of a limb and squeezing the green liquid into a container. Then dip your finger into the gel and gently rub it across your gums. The plant is harmless to digest, so feel free to let it linger on your gums as it eventually dissolves in your mouth.
(2) Lemon Juice
Lemon also contains anti-inflammatory properties, as well as vitamin C, which is proven to help the body fight infection. The best way to use lemon juice to treat gum disease is to mix it with salt (an antiseptic and analgesic) until you have sort of a paste. Then rub the paste onto your gums and let sit for several minutes before rinsing with water.
(3) Tea Tree Oil
Extracted from a plant native to Australia, tea tree oil is known for its many benefits. It’s great for zapping zits with impressive speed, cleaning your home, deterring bugs, treating insect bites and soothing all sorts of skin infections and irritations. It’s basically a jack of all trades, so it’s no surprise that it can help treat gum disease also.
You can rub the oil directly on your gums (it never hurts to dilute it with purified water or another oil such as coconut oil). It won’t taste very good, but it’s effective. Let it sit for a while before gargling. You can also purchase toothpastes that contain tea tree oil, such as Jason’s Healthy Mouth Tooth Gel which is infused with tea tree oil and cinnamon.
(4) Clove Oil
An age-old remedy, clove oil is great for healing gum disease. It’s antiseptic and analgesic properties relieve pain and cure infection simultaneously. Though it may burn a bit at first, clove oil works best by rubbing it on to your gums. Again, it won’t hurt you if you digest, but feel free to rinse after application if you prefer.
(5) Mustard Oil
Popular in Indian cuisine, particularly in the Eastern parts and Bangladesh, mustard oil is rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants and serves as an excellent antifungal and antibacterial. To use in the mouth, pour about half a teaspoon into the palm of your hand and gently rub across your gums in a circular motion, stimulating blood circulation and easing pain. Rinse with warm water.
Another jack of all trades, and also popular in India, as well as China, turmeric is truly a miracle herb. Its strong anti-inflammatory properties are useful against period pain, arthritis, heartburn, stomach aches, and cancer. Turmeric even promotes health brain function. For treating gum disease, pour one teaspoon of the spice into a bowl and mix with honey to form a thick paste. Then rub the paste all over your gums, and teeth and let sit for about three minutes before rinsing with warm water.
(7) Coconut Oil
Known for its anti-microbial properties, coconut oil is the definition of a “superfood.” It’s great for dry skin, hair loss, weight loss, digestion, heart disease and immunity. Its anti-inflammatory benefits help fight gum disease as well. Swish a bit of coconut oil around in your mouth each day to help remove plague and toxins. Click here for more on oil pulling.