If you’re older than 50, there’s a 1 in 3 chance you have gingivitis. The earliest stage of periodontal disease, gingivitis is an inflammation of gum tissue. Left untreated, it impedes the gums’ ability to protect vulnerable areas of the oral cavity from infection.
If that sounds bad, it is. And since gingivitis is rarely painful in its early stages, you may not notice a problem until you experience pain, bleeding or receding gums, or loose teeth. Then it’s called periodontitis—a full-blown infection of the tissues supporting the teeth.
The good news is that, caught early, gingivitis can easily be reversed with daily brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups.
The Plaque Factor
Plaque is a soft, sticky film that forms on teeth when sugars and starches from food react with bacteria naturally present in the mouth. Plaque forms mostly at the gumline. If it isn’t removed, it hardens to form tartar, which provides a playground where more bacteria thrive. Allowed to stay, it forms deep pockets at the base of the teeth that eventually infect the bone, causing tooth loss.
Look for natural bacteria fighters at your health food store. Powerful ingredients include neem, tea tree oil, grapefruit seed extract, bee propolis, herbal extracts, and essential oils in toothpaste, mouthwash, dental floss, and mouth sprays.
Consider adding supportive supplements to your arsenal.
Xylitol is a natural sugar that inhibits bacterial growth in the mouth. Look for it in sugarless gum, oral care products, and in supplement form. Regular use of xylitol after meals cuts bacterial growth on teeth by 50 percent.
Vitamin C helps heal periodontal pockets.
People who take calcium and vitamin D supplements enjoy better periodontal health, including less bleeding of the gums.
Flavonoids in green tea fight inflammation.
Conenzyme Q10(CoQ10) can help prevent periodontal disease. Studies show it also helps swollen, bleeding gums heal more quickly. CoQ10 is available in supplement and mouth rinse forms.