Gingivitis Self Help

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums that, if left alone, often progresses to periodontal disease, an inflammation of the bone around the teeth. Periodontal disease increases with plaque buildup, age, long-term use of steroid medications, and in diabetics, people with systemic disease, and smokers.

The presence of silver fillings, which contain 50 percent mercury, has also been found to predispose people to periodontal disease. One study showed that when silver fillings were removed, 86 percent of the 125 oral cavity symptoms were eliminated or improved.

Gingivitis and periodontal disease are complex problems that have complex solutions. Periodontal disease will affect nine out of ten Americans during their lifetimes, and four out of ten will lose all their teeth. Regular dental care is essential. Follow your dentist’s advice and practice consistent oral hygiene: brush and floss daily.

Nutrition plays a critical role in dental health. One recent study looked at gingivitis, plaque adhesion, and calculus deposit with regard to the eating habits of teenagers. They concluded that teenagers with diets adequate in nutrients had better oral health than teenagers with diets that contained fewer nutrients.

Teeth are made of bone material and need the same nutrients for rebuilding as other bones. It has long been considered that receding and inflamed gums were a sign that people brushed too hard, causing damage to the gums, but new theories propose that gums recede because bone throughout the body, including the teeth, is demineralizing.

If other bones need seventeen nutrients to remineralize, the same goes for teeth. Calcium alone cannot reverse the problem. Stress and fast-paced living can cause bone loss by making the body more acidic. To compensate, the body takes alkaline materials from bones and teeth.

Vitamin C deficiency causes bleeding gums and loose teeth and contributes to gingivitis. Bleeding gums is one symptom of scurvy, a vitamin-C-deficiency disease. We rarely see outright scurvy in our population, but we often see people with bleeding gums.

Vitamin C is also important for bone formation and collagen synthesis and is essential for gum repair. Vitamin A is also necessary for collagen synthesis and formation of gum tissue. Other researchers look to zinc deficiency or a low zinc-tocopper ratio as the culprit in gum disease.

Zinc is integral to maintenance and repair of gum tissue, inhibits plaque formation, and reduces inflammation by inhibiting mast cell release of histamine. It also plays a role in immune function. Vitamin E has been used clinically for periodontal disease.

Bacterial plaque, long known to be a culprit in tooth decay and gingivitis, produces compounds that weaken and irritate the gum tissue. They include endotoxins and exotoxins, free radicals, connective tissue–destroying enzymes, white blood cell poisons, antigens, and waste products.

Antioxidant nutrients and CoQ10 have been associated with improved gum health, reduced periodontal pocket depth, and decreased tooth movement. Bioflavonoids make the tissues stronger and reduce inflammation and cross-link with collagen fibers, making them stronger.

Because bioflavonoids work synergistically with vitamin C, bleeding gums often respond to vitamin C and bioflavonoid supplementation. My favorite bioflavonoid is quercetin.

Folic acid, a B-complex vitamin, is important for maintenance and repair of mucous membranes. The need for extra folic acid was first noted for pregnant women, while subsequent studies have shown that it plays an important role for gingival health in all people.

Healing Options:

  • Make dietary changes. Focus on fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Foods rich in flavonoids are beneficial: blueberries, blackberries, and purple grapes.
  • Take a multivitamin with minerals. Because you are depleted in many nutrients, arm yourself with an excellent multivitamin with minerals. Because minerals are bulky, you’ll probably take anywhere from four to nine pills daily.

Look for a supplement that contains the following: 1,000 milligrams of calcium, 500 milligrams of magnesium, at least 400 IU of vitamin D, at least 250 milligrams of vitamin C, at least 100 IU of vitamin E, 100–200 micrograms of chromium, 100–200 micrograms of selenium, 5–10 milligrams of manganese, at least 15 milligrams of zinc, and at least 25 milligrams of each B vitamin.

  • Try coenzyme Q10. Take 75 to 200 milligrams daily for a trial period of three months.
  • Take antioxidants. Vitamins C and E, selenium, glutathione, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), superoxide dismutase (SOD), betacarotene, and other antioxidant nutrients are depleted in diseased gum tissues. Supplementation can facilitate repair. For ease of use, purchase an antioxidant supplement. Use as directed for three months.
  • Take vitamin C. Try 500–1,000 milligrams one to three times daily. For maximum benefits, use until your tissues are saturated.
  • Try bioflavonoids. Use quercetin, bilberry (blueberry), grape seed extract, or pycnogenol for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
  • Try myrrh. Myrrh has been used since biblical times. It has soothing and antiseptic properties for mucous membranes.
  • Use a folic acid mouthwash. Use of a 0.1 percent folic acid mouthwash can be quite effective. Be sure to have your blood tested for pernicious anemia first, because folate supplementation can cause nerve damage in people with vitamin B12 deficiencies.
  • Try fish oil capsules. In a controlled placebo trial, it was found that MaxEPA fish oil capsules significantly reduced gingival bleeding and reduced inflammatory factors. Take 2–4 grams EPA/DHA daily.