How to reverse gum disease?

How to reverse gum disease

Gum disease refers to gum damage due to plaque and calculus build-up around and beneath the gums. There are several ways to reverse gum disease. The early stages of gum disease require minimum professional intervention and are easily treated at home. However, advanced stages require professional help and may need surgery. 

In this blog, I will discuss how to cure gum disease without a dentist and the procedures dentists advise and do to reverse it. 

What is gum disease?

The gum disease ranges from simple inflammation of gums called gingivitis to a more advanced form called periodontitis, where there is a loss of surrounding bone and tooth supporting fibers.  

Gingivitis appears red, swollen, and bleeding gums (on brushing). Periodontitis, on the other hand, presents with red to purple gums receding away from the teeth. The teeth appear longer than usual, and in worst cases, you may lose teeth if sufficient bone and gum tissues are lost. 

The treatment of gum disease involves the removal of the cause and management of the risk factors leading to gum disease.

The tissues supporting the teeth are known as periodontal tissues and, hence, the disease, periodontitis. 

What are the stages of gum disease?

There are four stages of gum disease: 

  • Gingivitis 
  • Early periodontitis 
  • Moderate periodontitis 
  • Late periodontitis 

What is gingivitis? 

Gingivitis is the inflammation of gums secondary to plaque accumulation. It appears as red, inflamed, bleeding, and painful gums. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and is reversible.

The plaque accumulation beneath and around the gum margins irritates the gums, and the inflammatory cells initiate an inflammatory response resulting in red, inflamed, bleeding, and painful gums. 

How to reverse gingivitis at home?

Plaque accumulation leads to gingivitis, so the reversal of gum inflammation involves plaque removal. Following remedies control the plaque at home:

Oral Hygiene Maintenance

Good oral hygiene is the key to healthy gums and is the essential home remedy to reverse gum inflammation at home. 

The following are the home care measures you need to follow:
• It is recommended to brush your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste twice daily (morning and before bedtime). Use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Moreover, please ensure to brush for at least two minutes and clean all the surfaces of teeth that toothbrush bristles can access, i.e., inside, outside, and the chewing surfaces.
• It is mandatory to floss once a day to clean the surfaces in between the teeth. Water irrigators can be used before brushing if you’re not comfortable with a string floss, have crooked teeth, or tight contacts between the teeth.
• Quit smoking, chewing tobacco, and drinking alcohol. Also, you need to cut refined sugar from your diet.
• Visit your dentist at least once a year. These annual dental visits help diagnose gum disease at an early stage. Moreover, regular scaling and polishing remove the calculus deposits above and below the gums.

Warm Salt Water Rinses

Salt is a cost-effective, tissue-friendly, natural disinfectant readily available at home. Warm salt rinses provide several health benefits to the gums in addition to standard oral hygiene practices.

The saltwater rinses promote healing by dilation of blood vessels and recruitment of white cells at the site of injury. 

Saltwater rinses also lower the bacterial load by alkalizing saliva. Moreover, it acts as an astringent (shrinking the swollen gum tissues), a bacteriostatic agent (stopping the multiplication of bacteria), and facilitates the healing of gum tissues.

How to make it: Add half or a quarter teaspoon of sea salt in half a cup of lukewarm water, swish it around the mouth for 30 seconds, and spit it away. It is advised to add it to the morning and nighttime oral hygiene routine.

Precautions: Avoid salt water rinses for more than a week, as their prolong use could damage teeth and gums.

Mouthwashes To reverse Gum Disease

Another way to relieve red, inflamed, and swollen gums is to include mouthwash in oral hygiene practices. Mouthwash reaches the areas of the mouth that escape brushing.

The following ingredients in the mouthwash help to control gum disease:

  •  Cetylpyridinium chloride eliminates bad breath and kills bacteria.
  •  Chlorhexidine is an antibacterial agent used to reduce plaque and control gum disease. 
  • Essential oils such as menthol, eucalyptus, methyl salicylate, and thyme have anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. 

Brands of mouthwashes to reverse gum disease

Peridex, paradontax, Crest ProHealth Multi-protection mouthwash, and Mint are some of the common mouthwash brands available in pharmacies that you can get to reverse your gum disease.

Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is an ancient, traditional remedy practiced for centuries in India and Southeast Asia. It is considered one of the best methods to fix gum disease in addition to usual plaque control methods.

How to do it: The procedure of oil pulling involves placing a tablespoon of organic edible oil, for instance, sesame, olive, or coconut, inside your mouth and swishing the oil around the mouth for 15-20 minutes.

Use of Corsodyl 1% w/w Dental Gel

Corsodyl gel is clinically proven to treat and prevent the signs and symptoms of gum inflammation. It contains 1% w/w chlorhexidine Digluconate as an active ingredient.

Chlorhexidine Digluconate kills the plaque-causing bacteria within 30 seconds. It also forms a protective antibacterial layer over the teeth and gums and prevents plaque buildup for up to 12 hours.

What do dentists do to reverse early gum disease or gingivitis?

Scaling and polishing remove plaque and calculus from the teeth and smoothen the teeth surfaces, allowing the gums to heal.

Scalers are operated either by using hand instruments or by ultrasonic devices. However, ultrasonic scalers remove calculus more effectively from the deep periodontal (gum) pockets.

What is periodontitis?

Periodontitis is the loss of gums and bone supporting the teeth leading to exposed tooth roots. As with gingivitis, plaque is the leading cause of periodontitis. Other factors, such as uncontrolled diabetes, certain medications, smoking, betel nut chewing, etc., also play a role in developing periodontitis. 

In patients with bad oral hygiene, the plaque grows below the gums, destroying the gingival (gum) fibers and bone holding the teeth. Periodontitis appears as red to purple, painful, and receding gums. Moreover, advanced periodontitis leads to the loss of one or more teeth.

Periodontitis involves four stages which are summarized in the table below:  

how to reverse gum disease

How to reverse periodontitis?

The early stages of periodontitis are easy to treat and can be treated at home. As periodontitis advances, it becomes more complex to heal teeth and gums naturally and requires professional help. 

How to stop receding gums from getting worse at home

As with gingivitis, the first thing you need to do is plaque control, followed by the same remedies as described for gingivitis. 

You can stop receding gums from getting worse at home by following the tips given below. However, to restore the lost tissues, you need to see a periodontist or dentist:

Oral hygiene maintenance 

Manual or electronic toothbrush readily removes dental plaque and food debris from the teeth. It is recommended to brush your teeth for at least two minutes and twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. Use an extra-soft, bristled toothbrush with a small head. Moreover, place the toothbrush at 45 degrees on the gums and swipe it onto the teeth (modified bass method).

Use of Gengigel

Gengigel is an over-the-counter gel that regenerates damaged gum tissues and is available at pharmacies or health stores. 

How to apply it: You can either squeeze the gel on your toothbrush and brush your teeth for a minute or apply it directly over the sore, inflamed gums with a clean finger and leave it for 1min. 

It contains 0.2% hyaluronic acid (HA) and 7.5% Xylitol (extracted from birch and beech trees). Hyaluronic acid is an essential component of gums, which decreases in the tissues with age. It stimulates the recruitment of fibroblasts (collagen-producing cells) to the local area, boosting collagen formation and tissue regeneration. Collagen provides firmness and elasticity to the gum tissues. 

HA regenerates the tissue through three processes: 

  • Reduces gum inflammation.
  • Accelerates the healing process.
  • Stops the multiplication of oral bacteria.

During the early phase of tissue healing, the HA requirement for tissue healing increases up to 200%, demonstrating its vital role in regulating cell turnover and promoting tissue regeneration. Therefore, young people with healthy immune systems consuming an animal-rich protein diet are shown to heal faster after an injury or surgery.

How to reverse periodontal disease naturally?

Several herbs and plants, such as cloves and turmeric, have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and antioxidant properties and help prevent plaque accumulation and reduce inflammation. 

You can ground them into fine powder or get a ready-made powder from a grocery store to make a thick paste for the application.

How to use it: Mix a teaspoon of clove or turmeric powder (or as required) with water to form a thick paste. Apply this paste to your gums with a clean finger or damp cotton ball. 

Message it gently for 30 sec to 1 min. Let it sit for another minute—swish water around your mouth to collect all of the particles of the paste and spit it out.

What do dentists do to reverse periodontitis? 

The treatment of periodontitis is divided into three phases to reduce the pocket depth and promote the formation of new bone and gums. 

Initial Therapy or Non-Surgical Therapy 

The initial therapy for periodontitis is aimed to control plaque formation and to identify and remove the risk factors. The initial treatment includes the following measures:

  • Cessation of risk factors: You will be asked to stop smoking, alcohol drinking, and betel nut chewing, and manage diabetes because these factors can further aggravate the gum disease.
  • Brushing with correct brushing technique: To ensure adequate plaque removal, place the toothbrush at 45 degrees on the gums and swipe it onto the teeth (modified bass technique). Repeat it several times on each tooth.
  • Interdental Cleaning: You will also be asked to use dental floss, tape, or a powered flossing device to clean spaces between the teeth. 
  • Use of mouthwashes And Toothpaste: The mouthwashes and toothpaste chemically control plaque, gum inflammation, bad breath, and tooth decay. Chlorhexidine, triclosan, cetylpyridinium chloride, and essential oil such as thymol are common anti-inflammatory ingredients added to mouthwashes and toothpaste to treat periodontitis. 
  • Scaling And Root Planning: This procedure removes calculus, bacterial colonies, and their byproducts from the teeth, smoothens the tooth surface, and allows the gum to reattach at a new level. 
  • Antibiotics: You may be prescribed topical or antibiotic tablets to control the formation of bacterial biofilms. They are available as insertions, gels, implants, etc., to be placed in the periodontal (gum) pockets and are slowly released in the tissues over time. The antibiotics are added to regular oral hygiene practices to control the infection.
  • Tissue-Stimulating Proteins: They are available in the form of a gel. The gel applied to the exposed roots restores the cementum (outer layer of the root) and promotes bone and gum regeneration.

The results are assessed after 8-12 weeks because the tooth attachment tissues take at least six weeks to heal.

Corrective Therapy Or Surgical Treatments 

Surgery may be required to reattach the gums at a new level to improve the esthetic appearance of the teeth. It is intercepted once the inflammation goes away:

Flap Surgery (Pocket Reduction Surgery)

A dentist or periodontist performs a flap surgery. During the surgery, a horizontal cut is made through the gums, and all the tartar and infected tissue is removed.

The gums are then repositioned and sutured or stitched back on the teeth. The gums attach to the clean teeth with reduced pocket depth.

Soft Tissue (connective) Grafts

In cases where gum tissue has been lost due to a long-standing infection, a connective tissue graft may be required.

During the procedure, a small tissue is taken from the roof of your mouth or tuberosity area (elevated area behind the upper last molar) to cover the tooth’s exposed root.

Bone Grafts

In addition to flap surgery, your periodontist or dentist may recommend bone regenerative surgery to replace bone lost due to periodontitis.

Bone grafting is a procedure where a natural or synthetic bone is placed in the area of bone loss to promote bone growth. The technique is called guided tissue regeneration.

During the surgery, a small mesh-like material is placed between the bone and gums. The mesh keeps the gum tissue from growing into the area where the bone is supposed to be, allowing the bone and gums to regrow.

Growth factors or bioactive substances are also given to accelerate wound healing and tissue regeneration.

Maintenance Therapy

The maintenance therapy preserves periodontal health and prevents the recurrence of the disease. During the maintenance therapy, the non-surgical measures are continued for 6 months to one year.

6 monthly follow-ups are also scheduled to evaluate the health status of the gums.

FAQ’s

How to fix loose teeth from gum disease?

Loose teeth are a manifestation of advanced gum disease (Periodontitis stage 3 or 4), with extensive loss of tooth supporting tissues.

Disease control requires identifying the factors causing it. Loose teeth are frequently seen in patients with uncontrolled diabetes and poor oral hygiene. Managing diabetes and maintaining oral hygiene is the first step to controlling the disease.

The dentist evaluates the teeth and decides whether the loose teeth can be saved. The teeth with reasonable support are splinted with the neighboring firm teeth or may require bone or tissue graft to restore the lost gum tissue. 

Is gum disease contagious?

No, gum disease is not contagious. It doesn’t transmit through kissing or salivary contact. However, people with gum disease have ginormous disease-causing bacteria in the saliva that can be transmitted through salivary contact.

The primary cause of gum disease is bad oral hygiene, uncontrolled diabetes, or medications. The transfer of bacteria from an infected individual may predispose you to disease if you neglect your oral hygiene or are immunocompromised. Therefore, it is best to avoid salivary contact with the people with gum disease. 

Does gum disease go away when teeth are removed? 

Gum disease is the disease of teeth supporting structures and often involves several teeth in the mouth. The mobile teeth with extensive bone loss are removed, and the teeth with reasonable tooth support are saved.

It is critical to know that plaque is the leading cause of gum disease, so you must control it to save the remaining teeth. If all your teeth are removed, plaque can still inflame the mouth lining covering the jawbone. The tissues enveloping the jawbones heal if kept clean. 

Can you get veneers with gum disease?

It is not appropriate to get veneers if you have gum disease. If you require veneers, the gum disease is controlled first, followed by veneer placement. It usually takes 3-6 months to reverse gum disease. However, the treatment duration varies depending upon the disease spread. Veneers is a cosmetic dental procedure and requires healthy gum margins for their correct placement and longevity. 

Will getting dentures stop gum disease?

Gum tissues become irritated and inflamed if exposed to plaque. The plaque causes gum inflammation in the tooth-supporting structures, and a long-term plaque exposure progressively destroys the gum and bone surrounding the teeth leading to loss of teeth. 

Once the teeth are teeth lost to gum disease, the replacement dentures require the same care as your natural teeth to avoid inflammation of the oral lining where the denture sits. The oral lining will heal if you take good care of oral hygiene after getting dentures. 

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