Recent news of former professional baseball player Alex Rodriguez's diagnosis of early-stage gum disease has highlighted the importance of caring for your teeth and visiting the dentist regularly. Rodriguez's struggle with periodontal disease — he claims he didn't chew tobacco — is an important reminder that anyone, even public figures, can be impacted by dental issues with long-term complications.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of U.S. adults 30 and older have some form of gum disease, and 70 percent of adults aged 65 and older have periodontal disease. We all know the importance of taking care of our teeth, which includes brushing twice a day and flossing properly, but is there anything else you can do to reverse periodontal disease naturally?
To get the inside scoop on how to prevent and reverse periodontal disease, Green Matters consulted Dr. Rhonda Kalasho, a Doctor of Dentistry and the CEO of TruGlo Modern Dental.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a chronic inflammatory condition and serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue around the teeth. According to Dr. Kalasho, it "affects the gums, ligaments, and bone surrounding the teeth. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss."
Periodontal disease can also lead to respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease, preterm birth, and problems controlling blood sugar in diabetes.
What are the warning signs you may have periodontal disease?
So, what causes periodontal disease? When bacteria in the mouth infects the tissue surrounding a tooth, it can cause inflammation. And if bacteria remain on the tooth for too long, it can form plaque which then hardens into tartar. The tartar build-up may then spread below the gumline and cause periodontal disease.
It is a relatively common health condition that can be prevented if you take care of your teeth and your mouth properly.
According to the CDC, the warning signs you may have periodontal disease include:
- Red or swollen gums
- Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth that make it painful to chew
- Gums pulled away from the teeth
- Gums that are tender or bleeding
- Change in the fit of dentures
- Change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Pus between the teeth and gums
- Spitting blood when you brush or floss
- Spaces in your teeth that look like black triangles.
How can you prevent or reverse periodontal disease naturally?
As Dr. Kalasho explains to Green Matters: "It is crucial to understand the effects of periodontal disease on oral health and explore preventive measures and natural remedies that can aid in combating this condition."
Dr. Kalasho says it is advised not to keep periodontal disease left untreated for too long, because as gum disease builds over time and more and more bone is lost, tooth mobility becomes evident.
To prevent periodontal disease, Dr. Kalasho recommends practicing excellent oral care at home, and seeing the dentist for regular checkups as cleaning is at the forefront of gum health.
Below, you'll find seven ways to reverse periodontal disease naturally.
Practice good oral hygiene.
Dr. Kalasho says that practicing good oral hygiene is fortunately under your control and the most preventive way to help with periodontal disease.
She tells us: "Proper brushing and flossing techniques help remove plaque, which is the primary cause of gum disease. Maintaining good oral hygiene practices can slow down the disease's progression and preserve the teeth."
Choose better lifestyle habits.
While Alex Rodriguez denied chewing tobacco or dipping, he admitted to chewing up to 36 pieces of gum per game and regularly popping sunflower seeds. It's unclear if that contributed to his diagnosis.
Dr. Kalasho says that certain lifestyle habits can cause periodontal disease. "Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, and high-stress levels can exacerbate the progression of periodontal disease," she says. "Making positive lifestyle changes can have a significant impact on oral health."
Monitor your overall health.
Certain health conditions can make you predisposed to periodontal disease. According to Dr. Kalasho, "systemic conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and immune disorders can impact the body's ability to fight infections, including periodontal disease. Managing these conditions and maintaining overall health can play a role in tooth retention."
Find out about genetics.
Genetics can make you predisposed to certain ailments and diseases. Dr. Kalasho says that "some individuals may have a genetic susceptibility to periodontal disease, making it crucial for them to be even more vigilant in their oral care routine."
Choose natural home remedies.
According to Dr. Ronald Plotka, DDS, a renowned Boston dentist and founder of Mouth Watchers oral care products, you can reverse periodontal disease naturally with holistic treatments. These treatments include his a saltwater wash, aloe vera mouthwash, turmeric gel, and oil pulling, which involves swishing oil around the mouth for up to 30 minutes.
Drink lots of water.
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to reduce periodontal disease naturally is to keep your mouth moist and drink lots of water. Drinking water increases your saliva's ability to neutralize acid in your mouth, and flush out and fight bacteria that can cause infections.
Switch your toothpaste for periodontal disease.
According to Dr. Kalasho, you should switch your toothpaste and buy one that contains any or all of the following ingredients:
Fluoride: "Fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel and prevents tooth decay," Dr. Kalasho says.
Antibacterial: "Look for toothpaste with antibacterial ingredients like triclosan or essential oils, such as tea tree oil, to help reduce bacteria in the mouth."
Tartar control: "Toothpaste that aids in controlling tartar buildup can be beneficial for individuals with periodontal disease."
Dr. Kalasho is a fan of various Parodontax toothpastes for those with periodontal disease — and fortunately, Parodontax is cruelty-free. She also recommends Crest Pro-Health Advanced Gum Restore, though Crest does test on animals.
Create a hydrogen peroxide rinse.
According to Dr. Todd Bertman, Lead Dentist and Founder of the Advanced Dental Arts in NYC, hydrogen peroxide is an excellent natural remedy to repair receding gum tissue, whiten teeth, and treat swollen and sore gums.
To make a hydrogen peroxide rinse, mix a quarter cup of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with a quarter cup of warm water. Rinse your mouth with the solution for 30 seconds, spit it out, and rinse with warm water. Repeat two to three times a week.