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Periodontal Disease

What is periodontal disease?
Gum disease is also called periodontal disease. It is defined as the inflammation of the structures that surround and support the teeth. If left untreated, gum disease may progress to the point where there is destruction of the jawbone.

Periodontal disease is one of the most common causes of tooth loss. It is also a risk factor for coronary heart disease and preterm low birth weight.

What are the symptoms and causes?
By far, the most common cause of gum disease is poor dental hygiene. Regular daily brushing and flossing of the teeth generally clears away food and bacteria buildup in the mouth.

Other factors can contribute to the development of gum disease:

  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy, puberty, and menopause
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Diabetes
  • Medications
  • Poor dental work
  • Enzyme and stomach acid deficiency

How is periodontal disease diagnosed?
A dental examination and history will be taken. As the disease progresses, a dentist will be able to find hollowed pockets near the gums. X rays may be used to reveal the breakdown of bone.

A smear of the gum area may be taken to determine the existence of any bacterial infections. The visualization of spirochetes can be used to confirm the diagnosis of trench mouth.

What are naturopathic treatments for periodontal disease?

Zinc, copper, folic acid, vitamin E, selenium, and vitamin A and beta-carotene are very helpful in slowing the progression of gum disease, especially if the patient has dietary deficiencies. Daily CoQ10 supplementation is also recommended.

Mouthwashes that contain either a 0.1% folate solution or a 5% solution of zinc, or both, swished in the mouth and held there for at least a minute, can be taken twice daily.

Flavonoids help reduce inflammation and strengthen the gum tissue. A daily menu that includes foods rich in flavonoids is recommended. These foods include blueberries, hawthorn berries, onions, and grapes. Extracts of these foods may be used as well.

The main homeopathic remedy for mild gum disease is Mercurius solubilis. Natrum muriaticum is for more severe disease, especially if there is formation of pus.

Herbal Therapies
The teeth can be brushed with several natural toothpastes containing various herbal extracts. Goldenseal root powder, Myrrh and Aloe vera are examples of some botanical remedies.

Allopathic Treatment
Dentists may advise mouth rinses with warm salt water as well as such measures for symptom relief as over-the-counter anesthetic ointments. The dentist will scrape away the damaged gum tissue. The root surfaces may have to be scraped.

If the gums are badly damaged, surgery is performed to remove and tighten the gum tissue. Bone loss may be addressed by a of variety techniques to encourage growth. If there is advanced disease, the teeth in the affected areas may have to be pulled.

Any underlying medical conditions should be assessed and treated, as they may be contributing to the gum disease. Such dental problems as poorly aligned teeth or grinding of the teeth may need to be addressed. Nutrition should be improved.

What results can I expect from treatment?
With good dental habits, most simple cases of gum disease resolve. If the teeth and gums are not cared for or if the disease progresses for other reasons, there may be destruction of bone and a loss of teeth.

Research indicates that the bacteria connected with plaque formation and chronic gum disease may enter the bloodstream and cause an infection that may bring on heart disease, pneumonia or premature births.

How do I prevent periodontal disease?
The teeth should be brushed and flossed daily, after meals. Fifteen minutes per day should be spent massaging the gums with eucalyptus, witch hazel, or vitamin E, rubbing a finger in a circular motion along the gum line.

Toothbrushes should be changed monthly, since there may be a tendency for bacteria to accumulate on them. The toothbrush should also be soft to avoid any further injury to the gums.

Page Last Updated: October 25, 2009

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