Gums are the pink tissues that are attached to our jawbone covering each root of the tooth right up to the neck forming a gum line. The gum tissues or also known as gingival tissues, protect the roots of the teeth. Gum recession happens when the gum tissues are pulled away from the teeth thus exposing the roots. When the roots of the teeth are exposed, the teeth are sensitive to hot and cold foods and drinks. Exposed roots also increased the risk of cavity, plague and loss of tooth.
The causes of gum recession include poor oral hygiene; gum disease that results in inflammation of the gums; grinding of teeth; smoking; vigorous and overbrushing of the teeth; and misaligned or crooked teeth.
Recommended treatments by the dentist for receding gums include deep cleaning procedures such as scaling and root planing. In more serious receding gums cases, gum grafting is recommended to restore the gum tissues. Gum grafting is a surgical procedure that involves taking the tissue from the roof of the mouth or gums tissues near the tooth and attached them over the exposed root.
Can we heal receding gums naturally without undergoing any surgery? It is believed that receding gums cannot be reversed. In this blog, we will examine the possibilities of healing receding gums naturally and how we can prevent further recession of our gums.
Are Your Gums Receding?
Gum recession is a gradual process that is not noticeable. Therefore, most people are not aware that they have receding gums until their tooth is damaged or lost. Therefore, gum recession is something that should not be ignored. The symptoms of receding gums are:
1. Long teeth
If your teeth seem longer than before, it could be a sign that your gums are receding. When the gums are pulled back, more of the teeth are exposed and eventually, the tooth root will also be exposed if nothing is done to stop the gum recession.
2. Noticeable gaps between teeth
Gum recession causes gaps in between the teeth and food get easily caught in between the tooth, making it an excellent breeding ground for bacteria.
3. Sensitive tooth
If you experience sensitivity in your tooth not felt before, it is a sign that your gum has receded and exposed the tooth roots. Sensitive tooth can also be caused by worn up tooth enamel.
4. Loose tooth
When the gum recession gets worse the tooth starts to get detached from the gum and becomes loose or shaky. If nothing is done to stop the gum recession, the tooth will eventually be lost.
Prevent Further Gum Recession
There are various factors that can cause the recession of gums, these include periodontal diseases which is gum infections. Some people are more prone to periodontal disease than others. Changes in hormone levels in women can make their teeth more sensitive and prone to gum recession. These factors are beyond one’s control however, there are other things that one can do to prevent further gum recession.
1. Practise good oral hygiene
Develop and follow a daily oral health care plan that includes brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing your teeth at least once a day, using an antibacterial mouthwash to help reduce bacteria that causes tooth cavity and gum disease.
2. Avoid aggressive brushing of teeth
Brushing your teeth too vigorously can cause the tooth enamel to erode and damage the gums causing gum recession. Using the wrong type of toothbrush can also damage your tooth and gums. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles instead of hard bristles. Soft bristles are flexible and can reach those places in your mouth that are more difficult to reach. Hard bristles, on the contrary, can wear down your tooth enamel and damage your gums.
3. Quit smoking
Smoking not only causes your teeth to turn yellow, it also causes severe gum disease. Smokers are at least twice more likely to lose their teeth as compared to non-smokers. The chemicals in tobacco products cause dry mouth and therefore it is easy for bacteria to stick to teeth and gums, creating plaque and tartar that makes it prone to develop gum disease which causes gum recession leading to lost teeth.
4. Stop grinding of teeth
Grinding of teeth, also known as bruxism is an involuntary action typically done during sleep. Teeth grinding are usually caused by stress and most people do not know that they are grinding their teeth. Constant grinding of teeth may lead to tooth enamel erosion and the excessive force on the teeth causes cracks in the teeth and the gums to recede. A dentist normally recommends a custom-made mouth guard to cushion the impact of the grinding on your teeth. You can also buy a mouth guard off the shelf, which is cheaper than the custom-made one.
Remedies to Heal Receding Gums
Harmful bacteria in the mouth is the cause of plaque resulting in tooth cavity and receding gum. Nature has provided us with many herbs that have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties that eradicate the harmful bacteria from the mouth. The following remedies are used by some people to heal receding gums:
1. Salt Water Rinse
Salt water helps to ease gum inflammation, toothache and gum recession. Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water. Swish the solution in your mouth for about 30 seconds and spit out. Repeat this process 2 to 3 times a day.
2. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is a traditional practice in Ayurveda, a medical system practised in India for thousands of years. In a study done in 2009, oiling pulling showed a reduction in plaque and gum inflammation.
Traditionally, sesame oil has been used for oil pulling. Coconut oil is now commonly used. To do oil pulling, swish a tablespoon of coconut or sesame oil in your mouth for three to ten minutes, then spit out. Then spit out the oil and rinse your mouth with water. Oil pulling is best done in the morning when the stomach is empty and should be followed by brushing the teeth.
3. Essential Oils
The following essential oils contain antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that help to relieve gum inflammation and heal gum recession:
- Eucalyptus oil
- Peppermint oil
- Tea tree oil
- Thyme oil
- Clove oil
Use any of the above mentioned essential oils to brush your teeth. Simply add 1 – 2 drops onto your toothbrush or mix it with your toothpaste. You can also use essential oil as a mouthwash. Add a few drops of the essential oil into a cup of water and rinse your mouth with it. Alternatively, use a toothpaste or mouthwash that contains essential oils and no harsh chemicals.
Can Your Gums Grow Back?
According to most dentists, receding gums will not grow back on its own. However, you can stop your gums from further recession by practising good oral hygiene and stop doing things that will damage your gums.
Personally, I believed that gums are tissues that will regenerate and grow back if we give it a chance to do so. Just like tooth decay can be reversed if we do the right things. If the gum or tooth damage is not so severe, given a chance it should be able to heal on its own. Maintaining good oral health is not just about brushing and flossing your teeth daily. We need to incorporate a healthy diet that comprises of foods that help to keep our gums healthy.
Foods that help maintain healthy gums included the following:
1. Dark green leafy vegetables
Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli, mustard, spinach and bok choy are packed with a lot of nutrients such as calcium; vitamins A, C and K; magnesium; iron; potassium; folate and antioxidant. Calcium will help to build tooth enamel and strengthen your tooth and vitamin C help to fight inflammation and thus help to prevent gum disease. Green leafy vegetables are high in fibre and thus chewing on them helps to stimulate the production of saliva in the mouth, which in turn helps remove food participles and bacteria from your teeth and prevents the plaque formation.
Nuts are packed with health benefits. In particular, almonds and cashews nuts contained calcium and magnesium which help to build strong teeth and bones.
3. Fish that are rich in Omega-3s
Omega-3 has anti-inflammatory properties that protect you from the bacteria and virus that enter your body. It helps to reduce inflammation and is used to treat chronic inflammation for arthritis and joint pain. For the same reason, omega-3 can treat gum inflammation and improve your oral health.
4. Dairy products
Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are high calcium, a mineral that is essential for strong bones, teeth and gums. Include dairy products in your diet can help improve your oral health.
5. Green tea
Green tea has antioxidant properties that help fight inflammation and it also has water-soluble polyphenols, better known as catechins can inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth. Therefore, drinking a cup of green tea every day can maintain your oral health and lower the risk of cavities and gum diseases.
6. Vegetables and fruits that are high in vitamin C
Vitamin C has antioxidant properties that help reduce inflammation and repair tissues. Vegetables and fruits that are high in vitamin C include all types of pepper and oranges, pineapple and strawberries.
Save Your Gums, Save Your Teeth
Inadequate oral care will soon allow plaque buildup on your gums and teeth. The plaque contains harmful bacteria that will soon destroy your gums and cause cavities in your teeth. Therefore, it is important to keep your gums healthy and prevent it from receding. When you do things to save your gums from further recession, in the process you are also preventing the loss of your teeth.