Gingivitis, or gum disease, is well known to hasten tooth loss as people age, but recent findings on its link to other serious health problems emphasize the importance of controlling this disorder. It now appears that prevention of gingivitis may yield the added benefit of reducing the risk for such serious disorders as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pneumonia, and even premature births. After the common cold, gingivitis is the second most common infectious condition in the United States.
Natural choices to speed healing of sore, bleeding gums
In addition to practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist for periodontal cleaning at least once annually, there are several supplements that you can take to help heal irritated and bleeding gums.
Vitamin C, flavonoids, coenzyme Q10
All three substances are powerful antioxidants that help preserve gum tissue and hasten healing. By promoting immunity, they help curb the bacteria that attack the gums.
Coenzyme Q10 has been shown to decrease the depth of the pockets that form between the teeth and gums. It also appears to speed healing and reduce bleeding from gum disease as well as decrease the recovery period after dental surgery.
Vitamin C and mixed flavonoids, which are most effective when taken together, appear to build up connective tissue in the gums and reduce Inflammation.
Vitamin C/flavonoids: Take 1,000 mg of vitamin C along with 500 mg of mixed flavonoids twice a day. Reduce dose of vitamin C if diarrhea develops.
Coenzyme Q10: 50 mg twice a day. Take with food for best absorption. In rare cases, CoQ10 may cause digestive upset.
Adequate calcium is essential to maintain the health of bones and teeth. Calcium supplements can strengthen the bone in which the teeth are anchored, helping prevent tooth loss.
1 Gram calcium a day. Take with food for best absorption. Check with your doctor about taking high doses of calcium if you have kidney disease.
Deficiencies of this vitamin greatly lower resistance to infection, so adequate intake of vitamin A is essential. Vitamin A also helps promote healing of inflamed gums.
25,000 IU of vitamin A daily. Take with food. A little Fat in the diet aids absorption. If you're pregnant or considering pregnancy, don't take more than 5,000 IU of vitamin A daily.
Vitamin E, folic acid liquid, vitamin C powder
These vitamin supplements, when applied topically, may decrease gum inflammation and bleeding. Applying the contents of a vitamin E capsule to inflamed gum tissue every third day should stimulate more rapid healing. On day two, you can apply folic acid liquid to the gums, and on day three, brush with a paste containing vitamin C and water. All these topical therapies should be carried out twice daily, after you brush your teeth.
Vitamin E: 400 IU capsule (broken open) every third day. After brushing teeth morning and night, break capsule open and rub contents evenly across gum line, using your finger of a cotton swab. Alternate every third day with folic acid liquid and vitamin C gum treatments.
Folic acid liquid: A swab of folic acid liquid every third day. After brushing teeth morning and night, dip a swab in folic acid liquid and apply to gums. Make sure you're also getting vitamin B1 in your daily multivitamin when using folic acid in any form.
Vitamin C powder: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon every third day. Apply a little water to the vitamin C to make a slurry. After brushing teeth morning and night, brush the vitamin C paste along gum line. Look for non-acidic vitamin C powders in the form of ascorbate, which don't harm tooth enamel; ascorbic acid, the acidic form of the vitamin, is cheaper but may cause erosion. Rinse mouth with water afterward.
Natural mouth rinses
If gums are inflamed, you can also rinse your mouth several times daily with aloe vera juice. You can also drink and rinse your mouth daily with wheatgrass juice, calendula leaf tea, or chamomile tea. Alternatively, apply a paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to your gums with a toothbrush; the paste should be left on for a few minutes and then rinsed.
The various supplements recommended for gum disease should be taken together to speed healing of sore and bleeding gums. You should observe benefits within two weeks. Individuals who are at high risk for gum disease, including those under unusual stress, can take the supplements long term, or as needed, for prevention.
Call the dentist if...
You are experiencing red, swollen gums or loose teeth. Prompt treatment can help preserve your teeth.
Your gums bleed easily after brushing or flossing, and bleeding gums persist for a week or longer.