Gingivitis (Holistic)

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About This Condition

Healthy gums can lead to more smiles and fewer visits to the dentist. Beat the bacteria that cause swollen gums and bad breath. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Overhaul your hygiene habits

    To kick gingivitis and prevent recurrences, brush and floss frequently, and get regular cleanings from a dental professional

  • Get some extra C

    For better overall gum health, take 300 mg of vitamin C a day, plus 300 mg of flavonoids, especially if your diet is low in fruits and vegetables

  • Discover CoQ10

    Reduce gingivitis symptoms and repair damaged gum tissues by taking 50 to 60 mg a day of coenzyme Q10, a powerful antioxidant

About

About This Condition

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums (gingivae), usually caused by bacteria.

Periodontitis is a deeper and more serious inflammation of both the gingivae and tissue that surrounds and supports the teeth.

Both common conditions are often progressive and can eventually result in loss of the underlying bone that supports the teeth. After age 30, periodontal disease is responsible for more tooth loss than are dental cavities. Severe periodontitis sometimes requires surgery to repair damaged gum tissue.

Symptoms

Gingivitis is usually painless, although the gums may be red, swollen, and bleed easily with brushing. There can also be a bad taste in the mouth or persistent bad breath (halitosis). In advanced stages of gingivitis, the gums recede, exposing the nerve roots, and the teeth may become loose. This may be an indication of periodontitis.

Supplements

What Are Star Ratings?
Supplement Why
3 Stars
Folic Acid Rinse
5 ml of a 0.1% solution used as a mouth rinse twice per day
Rinsing with a folic acid solution may help reduce inflammation and bleeding.

A 0.1% solution of folic acid used as a mouth rinse (5 ml taken twice a day for 30 to 60 days) has reduced gum inflammation and bleeding in people with gingivitis in double-blind trials. The folic acid solution is rinsed in the mouth for one to five minutes and then spit out. Folic acid was also found to be effective when taken in capsule or tablet form (4 mg per day), though in another trial studying pregnant women with gingivitis, only the mouthwash-and not folic acid in pill form-was effective. However, this may have been due to the body's increased requirement for folic acid during pregnancy.

Phenytoin (Dilantin) therapy causes gum disease (gingival hyperplasia) in some people. A regular program of dental care has been reported to limit or prevent gum disease in people taking phenytoin. Double-blind research has shown that a daily oral rinse with a liquid folic acid preparation inhibited phenytoin-induced gum disease more than either folic acid in pill form or placebo.

3 Stars
Vitamin C
300 mg daily
If you are deficient in vitamin C, supplementing with this vitamin may improve your overall gum health.

People who are deficient in vitamin C may be at increased risk for periodontal disease. When a group of people with periodontitis who normally consumed only 20-35 mg of vitamin C per day were given an additional 70 mg per day, objective improvement of periodontal tissue occurred in only six weeks. It makes sense for people who have a low vitamin C intake (e.g., people who eat few fruits and vegetables) to supplement with vitamin C in order to improve gingival health.

2 Stars
Blood Root and Zinc
Use a toothpaste containing .075% sanguinaria extract and 2% zinc chloride twice per day
One trial found that using a toothpaste containing bloodroot and zinc reduced gingivitis significantly better than placebo.

Bloodroot contains alkaloids, principally sanguinarine, that are sometimes used in toothpaste and other oral hygiene products because they inhibit oral bacteria. Sanguinarine-containing toothpastes and mouth rinses should be used according to manufacturer's directions. A six-month, double-blind trial found that use of a bloodroot and zinc toothpaste reduced gingivitis significantly better than placebo. However, a similar study was unable to replicate these results. Thus, at present, it is unknown who will respond to bloodroot toothpaste and who will not. Concerns also exist about the long-term safety of bloodroot.

2 Stars
Coenzyme Q10 (Halitosis)
50 to 60 mg daily
Coenzyme Q10 is often recommended by doctors to help prevent and treat periodontitis.

Nutritional supplements recommended by some doctors for prevention and treatment of periodontitis include vitamin C (people with periodontitis are often found to be deficient),vitamin E, selenium, zinc, coenzyme Q10, and folic acid. Folic acid has also been shown to reduce the severity of gingivitis when taken as a mouthwash.

2 Stars
Coenzyme Q10
50 to 60 mg daily
Supplementing with CoQ10 may reduce gingivitis symptoms and repair damaged gum tissues.
Preliminary evidence has linked gingivitis to a coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) deficiency. Some researchers believe this deficiency could interfere with the body's ability to repair damaged gum tissue. In a double-blind trial, 50 mg per day of CoQ10 given for three weeks was significantly more effective than a placebo at reducing symptoms of gingivitis. Compared with conventional approaches alone, topical CoQ10 combined with conventional treatments resulted in better outcomes in a group of people with periodontal disease.
2 Stars
Folic Acid (Halitosis)
Use 5 ml twice per day of a 0.1% solution
Folic acid is often recommended by doctors to help prevent and treat periodontitis and has been shown to reduce the severity of gingivitis when taken as a mouthwash.

Nutritional supplements recommended by some doctors for prevention and treatment of periodontitis include vitamin C (people with periodontitis are often found to be deficient),vitamin E, selenium, zinc, coenzyme Q10, and folic acid. Folic acid has also been shown to reduce the severity of gingivitis when taken as a mouthwash.

2 Stars
Hyaluronic Acid
Apply five times per day for one week or twice per day for three weeks
Gels and sprays containing hyaluronic acid, an important connective tissue component in the gums, have been shown to help reduce bleeding tendency and other indicators of gingivitis.

Hyaluronic acid is an important connective tissue component in the gums. Double-blind studies of topical hyaluronic acid treatments have shown that applying either a gel twice a day or a spray five times per day to the gum tissues helps reduce bleeding tendency and other indicators of gingivitis. However, plaque removal is still necessary for best results, and one study found that adding weekly topical hyaluronic acid treatments to a single session of scaling and root planing did not make a significant difference in healing. No research has investigated whether hyaluronic acid supplements that are swallowed are effective for treating gingivitis.

2 Stars
Mouthwash of Sage Oil, Peppermint Oil, Menthol, Chamomile Tincture, Echinacea Juice, Myrrh Tincture, Clove Oil, and Caraway Oil
0.5 ml in half a glass of water three times per day swished slowly in the mouth before spitting out
A mouthwash containing sage oil, peppermint oil, menthol, chamomile tincture, expressed juice from echinacea, myrrh tincture, clove oil, and caraway oil has been used successfully to treat gingivitis.

A mouthwash combination that includes sage oil, peppermint oil, menthol, chamomile tincture, expressed juice from echinacea, myrrh tincture, clove oil, and caraway oil has been used successfully to treat gingivitis. In cases of acute gum inflammation, 0.5 ml of the herbal mixture in half a glass of water three times daily is recommended by some herbalists. This herbal preparation should be swished slowly in the mouth before spitting out. To prevent recurrences, slightly less of the mixture can be used less frequently.

A toothpaste containing sage oil, peppermint oil, chamomile tincture, expressed juice from Echinacea purpurea, myrrh tincture, and rhatany tincture has been used to accompany this mouthwash in managing gingivitis.

Of the many herbs listed above, chamomile, echinacea, and myrrh should be priorities. These three herbs can provide anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial actions critical to successfully treating gingivitis.

2 Stars
Neem
Apply a gel containing 2.5 to 5.0% extract twice per day
Neem gel has been shown to be effective at reducing plaque and bacterial levels in the mouth.

In a double-blind trial, 1 gram of neem leaf extract in gel twice per day was more effective than chlorhexidine or placebo gel at reducing plaque and bacteria levels in the mouth in 36 Indian adults. A similar trial found neem gel superior to placebo and equally effective as chlorhexidine at reducing plaque and bacteria levels in the mouth.

2 Stars
Probiotics
Refer to label instructions
In two double-blind studies, the use of probiotic lozenges resulted in a modest improvement in certain measures of periodontal disease.
In a double-blind study of patients with chronic periodontal disease (periodontitis), use of probiotic lozenges resulted in modest improvement in certain measures of periodontal disease (a decrease in pocket depth and an improvement in attachment), when compared with a placebo. The product used in the study contained 2 different strains of Lactobacillus reuteri (Prodentis; BioGaia, Lund, Sweden); one lozenge was dissolved in the mouth twice a day (after tooth brushing) for 12 weeks. These findings were confirmed in a second double-blind trial.
2 Stars
Pycnogenol
6 pieces chewing gum per day containing 5 mg each
In a double blind trial, people with gingivitis who chewed six pieces daily of a gum had less gum bleeding and no additional plaque formation, compared with a placebo group.  
In a double blind trial, people with gingivitis chewed six pieces daily of a gum, each containing 5 mg Pycnogenol. While a group chewing gum without pycnogenol experienced continued gum bleeding and plaque formation after 14 days, the pycnogenol group had less gum bleeding and no additional plaque formation.
2 Stars
Vitamin C and Flavonoids
300 mg of vitamin C, plus 300 mg of flavonoids daily
In one study, supplementing with vitamin C plus flavonoids improved gum health in a group of people with gingivitis.

People who are deficient in vitamin C may be at increased risk for periodontal disease. When a group of people with periodontitis who normally consumed only 20-35 mg of vitamin C per day were given an additional 70 mg per day, objective improvement of periodontal tissue occurred in only six weeks. It makes sense for people who have a low vitamin C intake (e.g., people who eat few fruits and vegetables) to supplement with vitamin C in order to improve gingival health.

For people who consume adequate amounts of vitamin C in their diet, several studies have found that supplemental vitamin C has no additional therapeutic effect. Research, including double-blind evidence, shows that vitamin C fails to significantly reduce gingival inflammation in people who are not vitamin C deficient. In one study, administration of vitamin C plus flavonoids (300 mg per day of each) did improve gingival health in a group of people with gingivitis; there was less improvement, however, when vitamin C was given without flavonoids. Preliminary evidence has suggested that flavonoids by themselves may reduce inflammation of the gums.

2 Stars
Vitamin E
Refer to label instructions
In one study, patients with periodontal disease who received vitamin E had improvements in various measures of gingival and periodontal health, compared to the control group.
Patients with periodontal disease were given standard dental care and were randomly assigned to receive or not to receive (control group) 300 IU of vitamin E every other day for 3 months. Compared with the control group, the vitamin E group had significant improvements in various measures of gingival and periodontal health.
1 Star
Calcium
Refer to label instructions
Some doctors recommend calcium to people with gum diseases. Calcium given to people with periodontal disease has been shown to reduce bleeding of the gums and loose teeth.

Caution: Calcium supplements should be avoided by prostate cancer patients.

Some, but not all, research has found that giving 500 mg of calcium twice per day for six months to people with periodontal disease results in a reduction of symptoms (bleeding gums and loose teeth). Although some doctors recommend calcium supplementation to people with diseases of the gums, supportive scientific evidence remains weak.

1 Star
Chamomile
Refer to label instructions
Chamomile provides anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial actions critical to successfully treating gingivitis.

A mouthwash combination that includes sage oil, peppermint oil, menthol, chamomile tincture, expressed juice from echinacea, myrrh tincture, clove oil, and caraway oil has been used successfully to treat gingivitis. In cases of acute gum inflammation, 0.5 ml of the herbal mixture in half a glass of water three times daily is recommended by some herbalists. This herbal preparation should be swished slowly in the mouth before spitting out. To prevent recurrences, slightly less of the mixture can be used less frequently.

A toothpaste containing sage oil, peppermint oil, chamomile tincture, expressed juice from Echinacea purpurea, myrrh tincture, and rhatany tincture has been used to accompany this mouthwash in managing gingivitis.

Of the many herbs listed above, chamomile, echinacea, and myrrh should be priorities. These three herbs can provide anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial actions critical to successfully treating gingivitis.

1 Star
Echinacea
Refer to label instructions
Echinacea provides anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial actions critical to successfully treating gingivitis.

A mouthwash combination that includes sage oil, peppermint oil, menthol, chamomile tincture, expressed juice from echinacea, myrrh tincture, clove oil, and caraway oil has been used successfully to treat gingivitis. In cases of acute gum inflammation, 0.5 ml of the herbal mixture in half a glass of water three times daily is recommended by some herbalists. This herbal preparation should be swished slowly in the mouth before spitting out. To prevent recurrences, slightly less of the mixture can be used less frequently.

A toothpaste containing sage oil, peppermint oil, chamomile tincture, expressed juice from Echinacea purpurea, myrrh tincture, and rhatany tincture has been used to accompany this mouthwash in managing gingivitis.

Of the many herbs listed above, chamomile, echinacea, and myrrh should be priorities. These three herbs can provide anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial actions critical to successfully treating gingivitis.

1 Star
Flavonoids
Refer to label instructions
Shown to be effective against gingivitis when taken with vitamin C, flavonoids also appear to be effective by themselves at reducing gum inflammation.

People who are deficient in vitamin C may be at increased risk for periodontal disease. When a group of people with periodontitis who normally consumed only 20-35 mg of vitamin C per day were given an additional 70 mg per day, objective improvement of periodontal tissue occurred in only six weeks. It makes sense for people who have a low vitamin C intake (e.g., people who eat few fruits and vegetables) to supplement with vitamin C in order to improve gingival health.

For people who consume adequate amounts of vitamin C in their diet, several studies have found that supplemental vitamin C has no additional therapeutic effect. Research, including double-blind evidence, shows that vitamin C fails to significantly reduce gingival inflammation in people who are not vitamin C deficient. In one study, administration of vitamin C plus flavonoids (300 mg per day of each) did improve gingival health in a group of people with gingivitis; there was less improvement, however, when vitamin C was given without flavonoids. Preliminary evidence has suggested that flavonoids by themselves may reduce inflammation of the gums.

1 Star
Folic Acid Oral
Refer to label instructions
In pill form, folic acid may improve gingivitis symptoms, although one study found the mouth rinse form to be more effective.

A 0.1% solution of folic acid used as a mouth rinse (5 ml taken twice a day for 30 to 60 days) has reduced gum inflammation and bleeding in people with gingivitis in double-blind trials. The folic acid solution is rinsed in the mouth for one to five minutes and then spit out. Folic acid was also found to be effective when taken in capsule or tablet form (4 mg per day), though in another trial studying pregnant women with gingivitis, only the mouthwash-and not folic acid in pill form-was effective. However, this may have been due to the body's increased requirement for folic acid during pregnancy.

Phenytoin (Dilantin) therapy causes gum disease (gingival hyperplasia) in some people. A regular program of dental care has been reported to limit or prevent gum disease in people taking phenytoin. Double-blind research has shown that a daily oral rinse with a liquid folic acid preparation inhibited phenytoin-induced gum disease more than either folic acid in pill form or placebo.

1 Star
Selenium (Halitosis)
Spray a lotion containing 3.7% citronella in a slow-release formula every morning for six days per week
Selenium is often recommended by doctors to help prevent and treat periodontitis.

Nutritional supplements recommended by some doctors for prevention and treatment of periodontitis include vitamin C (people with periodontitis are often found to be deficient),vitamin E, selenium, zinc, coenzyme Q10, and folic acid. Folic acid has also been shown to reduce the severity of gingivitis when taken as a mouthwash.