Periodontal disease literally means “disease around the tooth” and is the major cause of tooth loss. The network of bones, gums and ligaments that form the tooth socket are called the periodontium. The gums that surround your teeth are called gingival.
Periodontal disease goes through three stages: gingivitis, periodontitis and pyorrhea.
The first stage; gingivitis, refers to inflammation of the gums caused by plaque that forms on the teeth and gums. This substance, if not properly removed through brushing and flossing hardens into tartar that irritates and infects the gums. Treated at this stage, gum disease can be controlled. It has not yet damaged the bone and ligaments that hold the teeth in place.
The second stage; periodontitis (begins as gingivitis), refers to the stage in which the plaque gets beneath the gums and begins to damage the roots of the teeth.
The third stage; pyorrhea, refers to the final stage of the disease. It affects the bones and support system for the teeth. The gums often recede to the point that the teeth appear elongated; pockets form underneath the gums where plaque and food can collect causing bad breath and greater gum irritation. Plaque and tartar under the gum line can cause infections that damage the bone. This results in loose teeth and tooth loss.
Inadequate tooth cleaning is the major cause of periodontal disease; however, other contributing factors include the use of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, a high sugar diet, mouth breathing, and habitual clenching and grinding of the teeth. Hereditary, hormonal imbalances and stress are other possible factors.
Symptoms Of Gum Disease:
According to the American Dental Association, any of the following can signal periodontal disease; although, it is also possible to have the condition without experiencing any symptoms.
– Gums that bleed easily, or gum tissue that is red, swollen and tender.
– Gum tissue that has pulled away from the teeth.
– Persistent bad breath or bad taste in your mouth.
– Permanent teeth that are loose or separating.
– Pus that oozes from between the teeth and gums when pressure is applied to the gums.
– Any changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite or any changes in the fit of partial dentures.
To prevent gum disease, brush and floss your teeth daily; after every meal if possible. If you can not brush, at least rinse your mouth well with water. In addition to cleaning your teeth, using an electric toothbrush stimulates the gums. Avoid mouthwashes with alcohol, which can dry out and irritate sensitive gums.
Vitamin A (beta carotene) seems to control the development and general health of the gums; a lack of this vitamin often results in gum infection. Take up to 10,000 IU beta carotene daily.
Vitamin C intake is especially helpful for the prevention of gingivitis and pyorrhea and may help promote healing of the gums. A deficiency of this vitamin causes teeth to loosen and break down. Take 3,000 milligrams daily.
Vitamin E helps promote healing of the gums. Take 400 IU daily. In addition, when gums are inflamed, open a capsule of vitamin E oil and rub it directly on the affected area to sooth and alleviate gum soreness in a matter of minutes.
Folic acid reduces inflammation and bleeding. Rinse your mouth using 5 milliliters of a 0.1 percent solution of folic acid twice a day; or, take 4 milligrams capsules or tablets daily.
Coenzyme Q10 helps to reduce swelling in gingivitis and promote healing. One study suggests taking 50 milligrams daily for 3 weeks relieves gingivitis symptoms.
Chamomile tea soothes irritated gums and may help prevent gum disease. It contains numerous components, including flavonoids, that have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. Use as a mouthwash three or four times a day between meals or drink it after meals.
Black tea may reduce your chances for gum diseases. Studies show that tea prevents plaque production. Subjects who rinsed with a black tea solution inhibited the production of amylase in their saliva. Amylase is an enzyme that breaks down the carbohydrate in starchy foods to a form that bacteria feed on. In reducing amylase, mouth germs are starved and can not manufacture harmful toxins. It also contains fluoride, which fights tooth decay while strengthening the bone that secures the teeth.
Bloodroot contains sanguinarine, a natural antibacterial substance that can prevent dental plaque from forming. Many natural toothpastes and mouthwashes contain bloodroot. Look for a brand that also contains fluoride for added protection.
Goldenseal tea has natural antibiotic properties, is a soothing solution for infected gums. It can destroy bacteria plaguing gums. Use as a mouthwash three to four times a day until the area is healed.
Tea tree oil has antiseptic properties, a dab of the oil placed directly on the sore area can help fight infection that is causing red, inflamed gums. Use once or twice a day until the area heals.
Other herbal teas used as mouthwash that may be helpful include bayberry, chaparral, marshmallow, and yellow dock.
Warning: Periodontal disease can increase the risk of heart disease. If you suspect you have gum disease, see your dentist at once.