There are many herbal remedies for gum disease. Gum disease, also called gingivitis or periodontal problems, results from bacteria in the mouth that forms plaque, a sticky substance that can harden over time near the roots of teeth inside the gums. Symptoms include painful gums, bleeding gums, and reddened gums. Sometimes no visible symptoms are present, but a dentist can see signs that periodontal disease exists or is imminent. It's important to have periodontal disease treated. Any infection in the oral cavity creates stress on the entire body, especially the immune system. Bacteria from the mouth can also travel to other parts of the body and create secondary infections. If you think you have gum disease, talk to your dentist and discuss treatment options with her before proceeding with herbal remedies for gum disease.
Exploring Herbal Remedies for Gum Disease
Most herbal treatments for periodontal disease involve brushing the teeth with commercially prepared toothpastes made from herbs such as neem and using antibacterial rinses. Usually the herbal approach to gum disease is mutli-step. Herbalists seek to build up a person's natural ability to fight bacteria while simultaneous building strong bones and teeth.
Antibacterial Herbal Rinses
Several herbs offer antibacterial properties. A sage mouthwash, made from culinary sage, offers some antibacterial properties.
Auromere makes an Ayurvedic mouthwash containing two primary herbs, neem and peelu. Neem, taken from the neem tree, reduces plaque. Peelu is called the "toothbrush tree" in India because of its long history of use for dental hygiene. Peelu is said to whiten teeth, but it may also have some antibacterial properties.
Garlic, while not used as a rinse, is said to build up the immune system. Like Echinacea, garlic is taken to help your body fight bacterial invaders, including those in the mouth that can lead to gum disease.
Herbal packs are made by using powdered herbs mixed together, moistened, and rolled in gauze. The gauze pack is then inserted into the mouth between the cheek and gum and kept in place for whatever length of time is recommended. Herbs used to create herbal packs for gum disease include:
- Turmeric: Turmeric has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine, and there's a lot of research demonstrating turmeric as an anti-cancer and antibacterial agent.
- Licorice root: Licorice root extracts are also used in Ayurvedic mouth washes to treat gum disease. If you have high blood pressure, don't use licorice root, since it may increase blood pressure.
For more information on herbs used as packs and rinses for gum disease, please see Healing Teeth Naturally.
Herbal Chewing Gum
Another remedy you may wish to try includes herbal chewing gums made with peelu or cinnamon. The gum should be sweetened with xylitol, a sweetener shown to reduce mouth bacteria and plaque. Chewing gum cannot fix dental problems, but it may provide additional benefits.
Although not necessarily an herbal remedy, using a mouthwash containing a solution of hydrogen peroxide has been shown in numerous experiments to improve gingivitis and gum disease. One experiment, published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontal and cited in the National Medical Library, reports that a rinse containing hydrogen peroxide prevented bacteria from colonizing the gingiva. Patients prone to gingivitis can use commercially prepared mouthwashes that include hydrogen peroxide. Ask your dentist if you have any questions about products to use.
Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure
Prevention is worth more than a pound of cure when it comes to gum disease, periodontal disease and dental problems. Regular dental checkups and professional cleanings by an oral hygienist aren't an annoyance; they're preventative maintenance for your mouth. Removing plaque and scale from the teeth can prevent major problems before they begin. Using a good toothpaste and flossing daily can also keep teeth in top shape between dental checkups.
Please talk to your dentist before using any of these suggestions. While most are without side effects, if you are allergic to any of the herbal ingredients, do not use them. Tell your doctor about any herbs you are using, even those not ingested but used as a rinse or toothpaste. You never know what might affect laboratory tests or medications you are taking, and it is better to be safe than sorry and tell your doctor about herbal treatments you are using.