A smile, given or received, strongly influences the tone of any given day. Unfortunately, receding gums have become exceedingly common in our society. And, though gum recession does not necessarily unduly detract from a genuine smile, it suggests a process that could escalate into dental deterioration. Ironically, gum recession is often caused by individuals being over zealous in their attempts to maintain a healthy, vibrant smile. Brush pressure and stiffness play strongly in this process.
Certainly, incomplete oral hygiene is responsible for the majority of gingivitis, or gum disease…in particular, gum infection and plaque buildup. When food gets trapped under the gum line it can breed a multitude of bacteria that will eat away the gums and cause severe inflammation that will further weaken the gum tissue and make it susceptible to deterioration. Ultimately it can progress deeper into the bone structure of the jaw. This is then referred to as periodontal disease which severely jeopardizes a healthy smile.
It is often believed that once the gums have receded, there is little one can due to bring them back. However, there are a few oddball treatments that may reap decent results.
One such treatment is “Oil Pulling.” This involves swishing oil, often coconut or sesame oil, around the mouth for 5 to 15 minutes at a time and then spitting it out. This is done every day, or even twice a day.
Another reported treatment for gum recession and gingivitis is to apply eucalyptus oil to the gums once or twice a day.
As with any condition, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of gingivitis, the answer is hygiene, hygiene, hygiene. In some countries it is enough to eat a good local diet with lots of crisp and crunchy foods that clean away the tartar that can cause inflammation and predispose to gum recession. Here in this country we must purposely clean our teeth with brush and mild adhesive toothpaste, at the same time gently massaging the gums to keep them invigorated and healthy. This is best done with a soft toothbrush, applying very little pressure. Technology has blessed us with a variety of electronic toothbrushes to help with this. It allows us to gently move the brush around the gum line while timing the brushing for optimal results.
Dental floss is still the gold standard for keeping our teeth. “Doc, do I have to floss ALL my teeth?” “No,” replies the dentist, “only the ones you want to keep.”
Water pics are now available that can vigorously clean out hard to reach areas while massaging the gums. One can add a good disinfectant like hydrogen peroxide to the water, or even mouth wash, though the use of mouth wash on a daily basis may overkill the resident bacteria, including those that are beneficial.
The idea is to keep the mouth clear of harmful bacteria and bacteria harboring debris, while invigorated the gums with mild yet stimulating massage effects.
A good smile can make all the difference in the world with how a person’s day goes. Let’s light up each day. You might be surprised how the world reflects back upon you.
Dr. Miles practices Naturopathic Medicine alongside other holistic practitioners at the Catalina Clinic of Integrative Medicine in Catalina, Arizona. www.catalinaclinic.com