Help! My gums just won’t get better!
Gum disease (also called gingivitis, which when aggravated is then called periodontitis) is a condition that is usually attributed to plaque buildup. There is redness, swelling, pain, bleeding, and sometimes loss of the ability to maintain bone structure.
However, it’s not only those people who don’t brush their teeth that get it – my mom, for one, has always been conscientous about brushing her teeth and flossing. And yet, she could not get rid of a gum problem. So she asked me to do a little research (in our family we don’t bother the doctor, unless it’s something we really can’t handle ourselves).
I found that there is something more basic underlying most cases of gum disease – namely, the veritable host of irritating chemicals in tooth paste, such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), which can cause canker sores (Denta Dental, 2017). I wrote about these in another post, so I won’t repeat myself here.
But it bears repeating that many brands also contain microbeads that can get trapped under your gums, giving food particles and bacteria an entrance to your gum line. The Personal Care Products Council is apparently lobbying to allow microbeads made from biodegradeable plastic to remain in personal care products (Mercola, 2015). Even if these microbeads are degradeable, who wants them degrading under their gum line?
Glycerin is another tooth paste ingredient that deserves an extra mention for creating problems of a more mechanical nature. Glycerin (also called glycerol) seems to be a harmless substance – in fact, it is made from plant oils, non-toxic, and beneficial in skin care products as it creates a film on the skin that keeps in moisture.
Glycerin works in the same way in the mouth by forming a film around your teeth and gums. This feature is nicely protective on the skin, but not at all benefial in the mouth. The reason is that this film blocks off the mouth’s own antibacterial cleaning and gum healing agent: saliva!
Not to mention it stops the teeth from remineralizing (yes, normal teeth do that!).
This means that tooth paste actually promotes both gum disease and tooth decay, while purporting to discourage them.
Many people on the web recommend using plain soap instead of tooth paste. Yes, soap! Apparently toothpaste actually contained soap up until 1945, at which time it was replaced with SLS (Hippypits). Of course any soap used in dental care should be quality soap that contains as few ingredients as possible (Castile, Ivory or pure olive oil soap would be good options).
Since I wouldn’t recommend something to my mother that I didn’t try myself first, I wet my tooth brush one evening, applied it to a good soap bar, and gingerly brushed my teeth with the soapy bristles. Thankfully my parents had never washed out my mouth with soap, so I did not have any psychological qualms about the idea. I found that brushing with plain soap actually left my teeth feeling clean and film free. To further the experiment I switched back to toothpaste the next night and found the film had returned. Brushing with soap the next evening brought the same clean feeling it had the first time.
So I asked my mom to stop using tooth paste and use plain soap instead.
And it worked for my mother. After just a few days her gums were back to normal!
This was the signal for me to quit wasting money on toxic, commercial tooth paste. My mother’s experience proved to me that using commercial tooth paste could be a reason gums just won’t heal, no matter how much time you put into dental hygiene. Furthermore, some people who have been using soap in their oral hygiene regimen for some time not only had their gums heal, but have actually found receding gums growing back (something that professionals deem impossible)!
At this point I must not neglect to recommend buying the softest tooth brush you can find and using it gently. There are people who are so vigorous in their fight against tooth decay that they end up brushing away the gums and exposing the roots of their teeth. I was lucky to learn of this danger before I “scared away” my gums. Brush softly, but for a slightly longer time.
Here are a couple other ideas of what you could do to take charge of healing your gums (or just to replace toxic tooth paste):
Sprinkle baking soda on your wet tooth brush. Not only does baking soda work to neutralize the acids in your mouth, it also minimizes tooth pain from gum disease. You can simply rub baking soda mixed with warm water on the affected area for instant relief. Also try gargling with soda water (1/2-1 teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water).
“The Compounder” recommends another measure that a person with recurring gum disease could use – a commercially available mouth wash with cayenne pepper in it called “Peri Gum”. I haven’t had occasion to try it, but I do know that cayenne does a world of good in many ways (although be warned that it can be difficult to tolerate for those who do not like spicy).
But there is one more topic that needs to be discussed if you want to get gum disease under control, namely diet and nutrition. In addition to consuming foods that are part of a healthy diet rich in fresh, whole foods (and avoiding processed foods and refined sugar), make sure you are getting plenty of omega-3 fats. The latest research suggests even moderate amounts of omega-3 fats may help ward off gum disease (Mercola, 2015). My favorite source of high-quality animal-based omega-3 fat is krill oil. If you are vegan, you can use algae oil, which is marine plant based.
Sources: (besides my own experience)
Denta Dental (Feb 2017). What’s in your toothpaste? A look at 5 common ingredients. Retrieved on Feb. 11th, 2020 from https://www.deltadentalins.com/
Dessinger, H. (n.d.). Homemade Tooth Powder Recipe. Retrieved on Feb. 10th, 2020 from https://mommypotamus.com/tooth-powder-recipe/
Hippypits (2020). The history of toothpaste. Retrieved on Feb. 10th, 2020 from https://hippypits.com/blogs/news/the-history-of-toothpaste
Mercola, J.M. (2015). Toxic Toothpaste Ingredients You Need to Avoid. Retrieved on Feb. 7th, 2020 from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/09/09/toxic-toothpaste-ingredients.aspx
Mrs Goodness (Mar 30th, 2016). We brush our teeth with soap. Retrieved on Feb. 10th, 2020 from https://mrsgoodness.nz/we-brush-our-teeth-with-soap/
Stinebaugh, E. (Nov 26th, 2012). Gum disease and soap. Retrieved on Feb. 10th, 2020 from https://thecompounder.com/