Yes, it is as bad as it sounds. The main cause of those small holes in the gums is a disease called gingivitis. The medical name for gums is gingiva – which how gingivitis gets its name. If left untreated, this condition can worsen and turn into an even more serious problem called periodontal disease, which is when a gum problem turns into a teeth root problem!
Although both of these require a visit to your dentist’s office, there are a few at home treatments you can use, but don’t rely on them to resolve the issue altogether.
What causes these holes to appear?
Before we get to the solution for them, let’s talk about why they appear in the first place. The main cause of gingivitis is, generally speaking, a bad dental hygiene. In case you haven’t been brushing and flossing regularly, that potentially could be a reason you’re suffering from certain dental issues.
Although the bacteria presence in our mouth is completely normal, when they are not removed often enough, they can cause only so many problems in your oral cavity, like tooth decay for example, and many others, leading ultimately to gum damage.
As bad as it is, it’s not so bad until it progresses into periodontitis.
Great news is that gingivitis is reversible with good oral hygiene, however, without dental treatment, it can, and it will, progress further, which can ultimately lead to teeth loss.
Even before the holes appear, some other symptoms precede them. Those include classic signs of inflammation, such as swollen gums, change in their color to bright red or even purple, tenderness and painful to touch gums, bleeding gums and bad breath, also known as halitosis.
The best way to treat gingivitis is to stop it from happening in the first place, which can be easily done with good oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing at least twice a day, as well as rinsing your mouth is always a great way to start!
One of the most effective ways of removing bacteria, along with food debris and plaque, from your mouth is flossing your teeth with water. Although very effective, dental floss sometimes isn’t enough to get rid of all food particles that are stuck deep between your teeth. Water picks can fix that issue quickly, and they are especially effective for people who have had dental work done or are wearing braces, where maneuvering floss in between teeth can be very tricky.
Although they can vary in shapes and sizes, what they have in common is that they all cause a stream of pulsating water to flow from the reservoir, through the end of the device and right into your mouth. Besides removing plaque buildup, food debris and substantial amount of bacteria from your mouth in a way that’s way more effective than traditional flossing, another great benefit is that they stimulate gum tissue by pulsating effects. And although this is all very good, it’s important to note that as effective as water flossing is – it’s not a replacement for brushing your teeth.
Our bodies most definitely reflect how and what we eat, so it’s no wonder that the same can be said for our gums and teeth.
One of the biggest reasons for damaged gums are sugary, acidic, carbonated drinks. They can wear off the outer layers of anything very quickly, leaving them open to further damage. Same goes for sugary, acidic foods.
This one is the easiest to control and what’s best – it’s completely up to you. For example, switch soda with water and switch candy with healthier snacks, like nuts or raisins. If you can’t help yourself, brush your teeth right after you consume these, to get rid of the debris they leave behind.
Another great thing to incorporate in your diet is green tea, because research shows that it can reduce the risk of various gum diseases! Of course, food that is good for the rest of our body is also very good for our gums as well. Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber are never a wrong choice because they stimulate our immune system to fight the bacteria, which is another good approach to the gingivitis situation.
Vitamin C is also a great way to go, as it stimulates our immune system and research shows that it can improve the health of our gums drastically. Whether in it’s natural form, or in a form of a supplement, additional intake of vitamin C can be a great way to fight off the infection.
Although regular toothbrushes are doing a very good job on their own, an electric one can do so much more for people suffering from dental issues. For example, if you’re already affected by plaque, then an electronic toothbrush can be a great way to remove it more effectively, due to it’s oscillation movements.
Many electric toothbrushes also have a timer, regulating the time that you spend brushing your teeth, and what’s even more important, a sensor that ensures you’re not using too much pressure while brushing.
Yes, yet another good reason for smokers to quit this nasty little habit. Smoking is associated with many different health issues, but especially with the gum disease.
Besides being one of the biggest factors in causing the gum inflammation, smoking also weakens your immune system, making it way harder to fight the bacteria and a potential gum infection. If you find it hard to quit, take baby steps and try reducing the amount of cigarettes you smoke as much as you can, and work your way towards quitting completely.
Regular dental cleanings
Yeah, this is not really at-home method, but it’s very important to note here, since regular cleanings mean you’ll have a lot less to do at home by yourself, and no matter how well you clean your teeth – a
“Regular cleanings mean you’ll have a lot less to do at home.”
professional can definitely take that job to another level, all while spotting any potential issues in their early stages.
Bonus methods! Homemade mouthwashes
You can buy your own mouthwash but there are a number of folks out there who don’t like taking the chemical route. As such, there are natural alternatives that you can employ in order to make your own mouthwash using herbs if you prefer to leave those chemical options as a last resort. Some popular examples of this include the following:
- Sage mouthwash – Sage has ant-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that you can put to good use for Gingivitis. Boil about a cup and a half of water, adding one teaspoon of dried sage and letting it simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain it and use this as a rinse 3 times a day.
- Tea tree oil mouthwash – Tea tree oil can help stop the bleeding that occurs with Gingivitis but you will want to ‘ease in’ to usage to make sure that you are not sensitive to it. Get a cup of warm water and add a single drop of Tea tree oil to it. Mix well and use it like mouthwash, rinsing for about 30 seconds at a time. If no discomfort occurs then after a week you can switch to 2-3 drops but avoid any high concentrations at first as some folks are sensitive to this oil. Tea tree oil is potent and can cause reactions with some medications, so consult your doctor first before trying this rinse if you are taking any.
- Lemongrass mouthwash – Great at reducing Gingivitis and plaque, this is another one to progress slowly with until you are certain that you are not sensitive to lemongrass. Start by adding 2 drops of Lemongrass oil to a cup of water to use for a 30 second rinse 2 to 3 times a day. If no irritation occurs then after a week you can switch to 3 drops to increase the potency of this home remedy.
Bonus methods! Homemade pastes and gels
Just as you can make your own mouthwash, you can also make pastes from ingredients you probably have at home already that can be applied to the gums in order to fight gingivitis or simply to provide a little comfort to inflamed and swelling gums. A few quick recipes are below:
- Turmeric paste – Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that can assist in preventative maintenance when it comes to Gingivitis. You can buy Turmeric gels at some stores, alternately, make your own paste by taking a teaspoon of turmeric and mixing it with half a teaspoon of water. Add the water slowly, stirring until you get a paste-like consistency and apply this directly to your gums. If you experience any discomfort then you may be sensitive to Turmeric, if so, stop using immediately, otherwise apply 2 -3 times a day to enjoy the benefits of the paste.
- Aloe Vera gel – If you have an Aloe Vera plant at home, take advantage! Cut a leaf sideways and take the gel from the leaf and spread it on your gums. Studies have indicated that Aloe reduces Gingivitis and plaque levels quite effectively and best of all, it’s straight from a leaf so you know that it is all-natural.
Bonus methods! Teabag compresses
Did you know that some teas can help to reduce swelling and combat Gingivitis? Both Green tea and Chamomile have antibacterial properties that can help to reduce swelling and alleviate pain associated with Gingivitis. To take advantage of this, simply steep a teabag for a few minutes and then pull it out, letting it cool until it is no longer hot, but only warm. Place the warm teabag between lip and gum and keep it there for 5 minutes. This also helps with toothaches in a pinch, so don’t forget that those teabags are useful in more ways than one!
A note on proper Brushing and Flossing techniques
Brushing and flossing is important but even more important is doing it right. If you are not using the proper technique when you brush and floss then sometimes you may be doing more harm than good. Whereas with proper technique you can gently clean and stimulate your gums to health keep Gingivitis at bay. The proper techniques are as follows:
- Brushing – When brushing there are a few considerations if you want to do it right. First, use small circles when brushing and make sure that you are holding your brush at a 45 degree angle. Brush every side of each tooth that you can reach and also don’t use too much pressure (replacing the toothbrush if the bristles are too stiff). Too much pressure can damage and inflame your gums so remember; brush smart, not HARD. You should do this 3 times a day if possible and it’s never a bad idea to sneak a travel toothbrush in your bag for a quick brush after a sugary meal.
- Flossing – Flossing is another thing that people find themselves surprised when they learn that they are doing it wrong. Make sure that you pull out a long string of floss, 18 – 20 inches is good. This lets you loop the ends with your fingers so that you’ve got a lot of fresh floss and control. Gently loop both sides of the tooth in a C shape and floss carefully so that you don’t damage your gums. Get more floss as you get to the second half of your mouth and repeat the process.
Some final words
In this article we have discussed 5 primary methods for treating Gingivitis and for keeping it at bay, as well as included some bonus methods which employ household materials so that you further build up your defense and treatment options for Gingivitis. Remember, you don’t want it to develop into periodontal disease, so employ these methods early in the game to ensure that your pearly whites come with healthy, pink gums. Until next time; brush, floss, and prevent!