Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease or periodontitis, is caused by bacterial growth in the mouth. Bacterial growth destroys the tissue surrounding the teeth and therefore can lead to tooth loss if it is not treated on time. The main cause of gum disease is the formation of plaque. However, it is not the only cause. Other factors such as the following can also contribute to periodontal disease.
Poor oral hygiene. Not brushing, flossing or using a medicated mouthwash frequently make it easier for gum disease to develop. All these activities prevent bacterial growth in the mouth. If they are not performed, bacteria will flourish in the mouth, resulting in gum disease.
Smoking. Smoking or using other tobacco-based products can increase the risk of gum disease. Smoking not only irritates the gums and tissues, but also makes it harder for the gum tissue to repair itself.
Hormonal changes. Hormonal changes occurring during pregnancy, menopause or monthly menstruation can cause the gums to become more sensitive. The increased sensitivity of gums makes them prone to gum disease.
Certain illnesses. Certain illnesses such as cancer or HIV make the immune system weak and increase the chances of gum disease. Diabetic patients are also at an increased risk of developing gum disease because it affects the body’s ability to maintain blood sugar.
Certain medications. Certain medications reduce the formation of saliva in the mouth. Saliva prevents bacterial growth by physically washing away debris and bacteria. Taking such medications can increase the risk of gum disease. Certain other drugs cause abnormal growth of gum tissue and make them more prone to disease.
Hereditary factors. If you have a family history of gum disease, you are at an increased risk of developing it.
Symptoms of gum disease
Gum disease is often painless and doesn’t present any symptoms. However, there are certain warning signs that can be indicative of gum disease. These include:
Bleeding gums, particularly after brushing your teeth
Swollen, red and tender gums
Loosening of teeth
Gum disease may not present any symptoms at all. Sometimes it can affect only certain teeth making it even more difficult to identify. Due to this reason, it is important to visit the dentist frequently. Frequent dental visits can identify gum disease in its initial stages and prevent it from causing serious problems.
Gum disease can be easily prevented by following proper oral hygiene. Brushing regularly will eliminate plaque from the surfaces of the teeth. Flossing prevents food particles and bacteria from accumulating in the gaps between the teeth. A medicated mouthwash reduces bacterial population and reduces the chances of gum disease.
Other lifestyle changes that can prevent gum disease include:
Avoiding smoking and tobacco-based products
Taking nutritious and well-balanced diet
Avoiding clenching or grinding your teeth
Gum disease can also be treated using home remedies. Here are six effective home remedies for gum disease:
Oil pulling. Many people believe that oil pulling is a fad and has no real health benefits. However, this is far from the truth. Oil pulling indeed works in preventing dental problems. The reason is simple. When oil is swished in the mouth, it removes bacteria and prevents plaque from building up. It not only prevents gum disease but also other dental problems such as cavities. Overall it is beneficial in preventing and treating dental diseases. You can use any vegetable oil for oil pulling. Coconut oil provides the best results.
Mustard oil. Mustard oil has antimicrobial properties. In fact, many cultures have been using it since hundreds of years to prevent and treat dental problems. It cures gum disease by killing the bacteria in the mouth and healing the gums. It also reduces pain associated with gum disease. Take a teaspoonful of mustard oil and apply it to your gums using a finger. Massage gently and let it stay for some time. If you do this regularly for a few days, you will see positive results.
Neem. The neem plant is used to treat a number of conditions in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine. It is also used to treat various dental conditions. The healing properties of neem have been proven through various clinical studies. It has strong antimicrobial properties. To treat gum disease with neem, make a paste of fresh neem leaves and apply it to your gums. Let it remain for some time and then rinse your mouth. Do not swallow the neem paste as it is very bitter. If you cannot find fresh neem leaves, you can also try a toothpaste containing neem. Some mouthwashes also contain neem.
Aloe vera gel. Aloe vera gel has anti-inflammatory properties. It also has antimicrobial properties and also prevents bad breath and mouth ulcers. To treat gum disease, massage your gums with fresh aloe vera gel and leave it on for half an hour. Rinse with fresh water. Repeat this several times a day. Alternatively, you can also swish aloe vera juice a few times a day and spit it out. Or you can also drink 2 teaspoons of aloe vera juice every day.
Tea tree oil. Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory properties and helps soothe inflamed gums. Clinical studies find that the tree oil can reduce the risk of bleeding gums and gingivitis. Simply add a few drops of tea tree oil to your toothpaste and brush your teeth with it twice daily. Some toothpastes containing tea tree oil are also available.
Garlic and turmeric paste. The health benefits of garlic and turmeric are known since time immemorial. Both these spices have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Simply make a paste of garlic and turmeric by crushing them together and apply it to a toothbrush and brush your teeth. Rinse your mouth afterwards.