I write frequently about nutrition, gum disease, and overall health. This is my passion since I know first hand that providing our cells with the nourishment and supportive lifestyle they need will allow our bodies to thrive. You could read my personal transformation here.
I want to share some thoughts about the connection between gums and health.
Do you have gum disease?
If your gums bleed sometimes, you most likely have a form of gum disease called gingivitis. This is an infection; it involves inflammation and bacteria. Often, this infection can travel under the gums and into the jawbone surrounding the roots of your teeth, which transforms into a more advanced stage called periodontitis.
Gum disease can give you bad breath, loose teeth, tenderness in the gum tissues, gum recession, and root sensitivity. It also can participate in spreading infection throughout your body. Unfortunately, as the disease progresses, your occasional bleeding gums might go away, causing you to believe that this disease is not a problem any longer. Don’t become misled. Often this infection has moved deeper under the gums and into the bone around your teeth, slowly destroying your jawbone. The bleeding has stopped, but the infection is worse. And, it may not cause pain until the teeth are ready to fall out.
But, be aware that bleeding or sore gums might be something other than gum disease. The mouth mirrors many of the internal functions and malfunctions of the entire body. Sometimes, both a dental as well as a medical evaluation are necessary to determine if you have gum disease or something totally different.
What can you do about gum disease?
You need to be cleaning your mouth properly. A well-trained dental hygienist can demonstrate what you need to do if you need some help. I find that most people will benefit by brushing with an electric toothbrush that efficiently cleans the bacterial film from around much of the tooth. It is also important for you to clean between the teeth with floss and a small brush that is designed to clean the in-between spaces as a bottle brush would clean the inside of a baby’s bottle. Brushing is all about removing the bacterial film (called dental plaque) from the surfaces of the teeth. When it comes to toothpaste, my recommendation is organic coconut oil and baking soda.
For most people, I recommend the following for effective tooth cleaning:
- Have a small jar of coconut oil and baking soda in your bathroom. Coconut oil has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties; baking soda has very low abrasiveness and helps maintain a healthy pH level in your mouth. The coconut oil is solid at room temperature, but melts at 76 degrees F.
- Dip your toothbrush bristles into some coconut oil, and then dip them into some baking soda. I like an electric toothbrush because it is more efficient than a regular manual toothbrush. I find that the electric toothbrushes that sit in a cradle that charge from an electrical outlet in the wall are much more effective than battery-operated brushes, which don’t seem to have much torque.
- Next, place the toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle into the gum margin where the gums meet the teeth. The baking soda will make the toothpaste taste salty.
- Turn the brush “on”, close your lips to keep the drool and splatter in your mouth and not all over the bathroom wall and mirror, and let the electric toothbrush do all the wiggling. Just move the brush from one side of your mouth to the other staying in the gum margins. Be sure to clean all the outside surfaces facing the cheeks and lips and then all the inside surfaces facing the roof of your mouth and your tongue.
- You also want to clean the in-between surfaces of your teeth. Floss is good, but I also like a tiny brush that fits between the teeth. Think about how you would clean the inside of a baby bottle. These little interdental brushes are soft, and they gently remove the soft bacteria sticking to the tooth surfaces between the teeth as you slide the brush in and out between these teeth.
The bacteria, which are major factors causing this infection, also can harden around the teeth and under the gums. A dentist or a dental hygienist can gently remove these deposits called tartar that are like barnacles that form on a boat’s bottom as it sits in the water. Tartar irritates the gum tissues like a splinter in your finger would irritate the surrounding skin until it was removed.
To understand what is going on with your gums, you should make an appointment with a gum specialist (periodontist) like myself. A periodontist could help you learn how this infection might be spreading in your body and how it might be arrested and healed.
Gum health and overall health
Gum health is not only about brushing and flossing. While most dental offices will never address nutrition in depth, I believe nutrient-dense nourishment is a critical component for a healthy mouth and a healthy body. The refined carbohydrates (like breads, cereals, processed foods, sugars) that you consume can increase bad bacteria in your gut. Then, unhealthy bacteria from your gut can affect the bacteria in your mouth by way of your saliva. These unhealthy bacteria have a negative effect on overall health as well as mouth health. Infection-causing bacteria forming in your mouth feed off of the refined carbohydrates you consume to cause gum disease and tooth decay – a vicious cycle.
This cycle needs to be broken. The ways to a healthy mouth and a healthy body must start with individual cell health. And, the only way a cell can get healthy is with proper nutrients and the removal of any irritants. You need to remove the bad and replace it with the good. From a mouth perspective, it means removing the soft bacteria and the tartar from around the teeth. From a nutrition standpoint, it means eating nutrient-dense foods and removing the unhealthy carbohydrates. From an overall perspective, it also means obtaining restorative sleep, effective exercise, and stress reduction.
If you would like, you could schedule a phone consultation with me. You would fill out a Questionnaire and a 3-Day Food Journal (both are on my Website), then send them to me by FAX or online. If you would prefer, you could mail them to my Post Office Box listed at the bottom of this page. I will review them and call you by phone or Skype to discuss your issues. I am here to help if you feel the need.
I see patients in my office located in Bluffton, SC (843-593-8123). The way I treat advanced gum disease is by incorporating a laser procedure called LANAP (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure) with Primal Nutrition and Lifestyle concepts. Positive lifestyle changes can make all the difference as they assist cells around the teeth as well as cells throughout the entire body in healing.