(NaturalHealth365) While its symptoms may seem easy to ignore, gingivitis can cause serious health problems if left untreated. Over time, gingivitis can develop into gum disease, ravaging surrounding mouth tissue and bone. Known as periodontitis, this advanced condition can often cause a loss of teeth.
Periodontitis – and poor oral health in general – has also been linked with life-threatening conditions like heart attack, lung disease and stroke. It’s also suspected that pregnant women suffering from periodontitis are more likely to experience premature births and low birth-weight babies.
What are the symptoms of gingivitis?
Healthy gums are firm and light pink in color. If your gums have become puffy and soft, or changed to a deeper color, you probably have gingivitis. Other symptoms include gums that bleed easily, a film covering mouth tissues, bad breath and receding gums. Often, pink toothbrush bristles are a telltale sign.
To improve gum health, it’s important to brush regularly with a high-quality toothpaste, essential oil or sea salt solution and follow other good oral health practices, like visiting a holistically-oriented dentist – on a regular basis. In addition, if you need it, here are a variety of natural remedies for gingivitis:
1. Vitamins C and D greatly reduce the risk of gingivitis.
You may remember hearing in childhood that certain vitamins are important for building strong bones – especially the teeth. The same holds true for developing healthy gums.
A number of studies have shown that vitamin C deficiency is associated with increased signs of gingivitis. This likely explains why smokers are at greater risk for gum disease since the unhealthy habit also depletes the body of vitamin C. In fact, just one cigarette can deplete 25 mg. of vitamin C!
Vitamin C can both prevent and reverse gum disease. One study involved subjects suffering from periodontal disease who normally consumed only about 25-30 mg of vitamin C each day. Provided with an additional 70 mg of the vitamin, they showed marked improvement in gum health after just six weeks.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin D is also associated with decreased risk of gum disease. Boston University researchers looked at National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data from 6,700 non-smoking subjects of a wide age range. Those exhibiting the highest blood levels of a vitamin D metabolite were less likely to show signs of gingivitis. It’s thought that vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory effects help to decreases susceptibility to gum disease.
2. Antioxidants and probiotics promote healthy teeth and gums.
You may not have heard of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), but this vital nutrient plays an important role in energy production for every cell in the body. When it comes to oral health, CoQ10 also has a critical role to play – as an antioxidant – in preventing periodontal and other diseases. Researchers have shown that dosages of 50 to 75 mg per day can slow advancement of gum disease, providing a natural approach on how to treat gingivitis.
Clinical cardiologist and author Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., found that patients exhibited noticeable improvement in gum health after starting a CoQ10 supplementation regimen for heart disease. The effect is likely due to CoQ10’s support of the immune system.
Holistic dentist and author Dr. Victor Zeines, well-known for his natural approaches to oral health, recommends 100 mg of CoQ10 each day, in combination with other supplements.
Another well-known antioxidant, pomegranate, has also been found to improve dental health. This antioxidant vigorously attacks bacteria that can lead to gum disease. Scientists believe it works by interfering with production of chemicals that bacteria normally use to adhere to surfaces of the mouth.
In fact, study subjects rinsing with pomegranate solution – as a mouthwash – had a lower protein content in saliva, a nutrient found to be higher in saliva when gingivitis is present.
Another natural approach to reducing gingivitis includes the use of probiotics to promote the growth of healthy organisms in the mouth while reducing the numbers of bacteria known to cause inflammation and disease.
Although regular brushing helps remove plaque from teeth, probiotics can take this good oral health habit a step further by actually changing the mouth’s environment, making it a less desirable place for plaque to develop. Examples of probiotics that have been shown through research to improve the environment of the mouth include S. salivarius probiotic and Bacillus coagulans.