Nearly 1 in 2 adults over age 30 have diseased gums. Here are 7+ ways to prevent gum disease, plus how to start reversing and healing it.
How to Prevent Gum Disease and Heal Your Gums
Nearly 1 out of 2 adults over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease. And if you’re over the age of 64, your chance of having gum disease increases to 70.1%.1)https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/conditions/periodontal-disease.html#:~:text=A%20recent%20CDC%20report1,and%20older%20have%20periodontal%20disease
Signs of gum disease include swollen gums, bad breath, bleeding or receding gums, and loose teeth, among other things.
These symptoms are so common that most of us don’t even equate them with gum disease. We just think of them as business as usual in OUR mouths, and go about our daily brushing routines.
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But if brushing our teeth was completely effective in preventing gum disease, would half or more of us be walking around with gingivitis or periodontitis every day? The fact is that even brushing twice daily can’t always prevent gum disease when other contributing factors—like smoking or an unhealthy gut microbiome—are at play.
So, if you don’t have gum disease, what can you do to maintain your gum health? And if you do, what steps can you take to start healing your gums?
Gum Disease Basics
How do you get gum disease (a.k.a. periodontal disease)? It starts with the bacteria in your mouth, which create a sticky film called plaque that forms around your teeth and gums.
If plaque isn’t removed daily, it will harden and become tartar.
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Plaque, tartar, and accumulating bacteria irritate and inflame the gums. This is known as gingivitis—the early stage of gum disease.
When the plaque and tartar begin to form below the gumline, your problem has progressed to periodontitis—advanced gum disease. The bacterial infection spreads and destroys the gums, teeth, and bone structure. It could result in tooth loss.
Preventing Gum Disease and Healing Your Gums
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that there is a link between the health of your body and the health of your mouth. Gum disease doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
In fact, a recent study found that adults with periodontitis were twice as likely to have high blood pressure as adults without severe gum disease.2)https://www.tctmd.com/news/study-suggests-periodontitis-may-be-marker-hypertension
Another study that explored how treating gum disease affects chronic systemic conditions looked at 338,891 individuals who had both gum disease and an additional systemic condition, including cerebrovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease, and type 2 diabetes.3)https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(14)00153-6/fulltext (They also included pregnant women in the group to see if treating gum disease would help prevent adverse pregnancy outcomes.) It’s important to note that the researchers were specifically looking for people with chronic conditions to include in this study—however, it’s hard to ignore the fact that they were able to find so many people with underlying chronic conditions who also happened to have gum disease.
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Of course, your diet has a lot to do with the health of your mouth, too. If you eat a lot of acidic, sugary foods, your teeth and gums are going to have problems. When you eliminate processed foods—plus eliminate gum-destroying behaviors like smoking and improve your oral health regimen through bacteria-fighting practices like oil pulling—your gums will begin to heal.
8 Foods That Contribute to Gum Disease
The foods below promote gum disease by causing acidity in the body. Avoiding or limiting them can help prevent gum disease altogether and can help keep it from progressing if you’re already dealing with it:
- Grains (unsprouted or unfermented)
- Hydrogenated oils
- Some dairy products (low-fat yogurt, cheeses)
- Processed foods
- Some fish (canned tuna, trout)
- Processed and fatty meats, like salami, hot dogs, and corned beef
- Sodas, sweetened beverages, and fruit juices
5 Foods That Help Prevent Gum Disease
The following foods can be your allies in the fight against periodontal disease. Eating them regularly can help prevent gum disease and can also help your gums heal:
- Wild-caught fish (salmon, mackerel, and sardines/fish that is high in omega-3s)
- Fresh veggie juice (helps reduce the inflammation in your body)
- Chewing gum with xylitol (Xylitol helps prevent the buildup of bacteria.)
- Raw vegetables and apples (naturally clean your teeth)
- Foods high in fat-soluble vitamins (raw milk, coconut, beef liver, bone broth, grass-fed animal meat)
6 More Ways to Help Heal and Prevent Gum Disease
- Don’t Smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control, smokers are twice as likely to develop gum disease than nonsmokers. The longer you smoke, the greater your risk of developing gum disease. Conversely, when you stop smoking, your gums will be better able to start healing.4)https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/periodontal-gum-disease.html
- Eat Garlic. The allicin in garlic helps fight the bad bacteria that causes tooth decay. Studies have shown that garlic extract has promise in fighting gum disease (in addition to boosting the immune system in general), so eat garlic regularly to help support gum health!5)https://askthedentist.com/garlic-oral-health-benefits/
- Check Your Gut. According to Dr. Steven Lin, a functional dentist who focuses on the connection between oral health and the health of the rest of the body, there is a link between chronic digestive problems and gum disease—and healing the gut can help heal the gums.6)https://www.drstevenlin.com/healing-gum-disease/
- Oil Pull. Studies have shown that oil pulling with anti-inflammatory oils like coconut oil and sesame oil can help decrease plaque, improve gum health, and reduce harmful bacteria in the mouth.7)healthline.com/nutrition/6-benefits-of-oil-pulling#TOC_TITLE_HDR_5
- Floss. Flossing helps remove the bacteria that cause gum disease in hard-to-reach places.8)https://www.healthpartners.com/blog/does-flossing-help/#:~:text=When%20not%20removed%20by%20brushing,can%20lead%20to%20gum%20disease In fact, twice-daily flossing has been shown to reduce signs of gum disease by more than 40% in as little as two weeks.9)https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/news/20060809/flossing-needed-to-fight-gum-disease
- Use a Good Toothpowder. A year-long study found that while commercial toothpaste was effective from a clinical perspective, toothpowder composed of calcium carbonate and essential oils was “statistically more effective than toothpaste in controlling extrinsic dental staining, dental plaque, and gingival inflammation.”10)https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01902095 It’s important to note that many modern toothpowder recipes use sodium carbonate (baking soda) interchangeably with calcium carbonate.
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Make Your Own Natural Tooth Powder
- 3 Tablespoons bentonite clay (Acts as a binder and helps remineralize teeth)
- 1 Tablespoon baking soda (Gently removes stains and cleans teeth)
- 1 Tablespoon powdered cinnamon (For flavor, and has antibacterial properties)
- 1 Tablespoon Xylitol powder (Sweetener)
- 2 Tablespoons calcium and magnesium powder (Whitens teeth, contains calcium, cleans)
- 10 drops of Thieves essential oil (Antimicrobial properties; pain reliever; promotes healing)
- 20 drops of peppermint essential oil (Natural antiseptic and pain reliever that soothes sore gums; also adds flavor)11)https://www.greenbelly.co/pages/tooth-powder
Mix all ingredients in a non-metallic bowl. Put your powder in a pint-size glass jar for storage. Use one jar per family member if you’re going to dip your toothbrush into it.
To Use: Wet your toothbrush in hot water and dip it into your homemade powder. Brush for at least 2 minutes. Rinse with cool water. The powder can be used daily and is good for kids and adults.
If you’d rather have toothpaste, here is a natural toothpaste recipe.
I’ve made it simple to replace your store-bought toothpaste right now with TGN’s DIY Better-Than-Toothpaste Toothpowder Kit! Click here to learn more!
What Do You Think?
What’s your favorite way to take care of your teeth? Please let us know in the comments below!
This is an updated version of an article that was originally published August 17, 2017. The author may not currently be available to respond to comments, however we encourage our Community members to chime in to share their experiences and answer questions!
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