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Gums (general health)

General characteristics

General characteristics

Gums (or 'gingiva') cover the bones of the jaw, hugging the teeth tightly and hold each tooth in place by way of fibres attached to the roots of the teeth. The gums are composed of connective tissue with a mucous membrane covering that secretes a mucous to lubricate and moisten the gums, to wash the junction where the gum joins the tooth and to provide anti-bacterial protection. It also contributes to the build up of plaque and tartar if the gums aren't cleaned regularly and properly. In Caucasian people healthy gums should be a coral pink whilst healthy in other races may be darker. Bluish, dark purplish, bright red and pale or white looking gums should probably be considered unhealthy and a sign of gum disease. When gums become inflamed they are more likely to bleed, be painful and begin to recede away from the normal gum line.

Causes of unhealthy gums include smoking, poor diet, poor dental hygiene (including over and underbrushing), thrush and lowered vitality, dry mouth, infections, stress will exacerbate any weaknesses, some medicines (e.g. steroids, antibiotics, chemotherapy), old age, but by far the most common is nutritional deficiencies and over consumption of processed foods. It is interesting to note that there are several hundred billion bacteria in a healthy 'clean' mouth. This number can increase massively when conditions are right for bacteria to thrive. The inflammatory conditions that exist in gum disease produce waste products that can go on to unfavourably effect other parts of the body. Gum and tooth problems are now suspected as contributing significantly to the onset of chronic disease like cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Healing objectives are to keep the gums and all mouth structures as healthy as possible through diet and good dental hygiene practises and to treat any problems as soon as they arise.


Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Avoid processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugary foods and pastries, smoking, fizzy drinks, excessive alcohol, artificial sweeteners and additives. All are detrimental to gums and health generally.

Foods rich in vitamin C are very useful as a preventative against gum diseases. Berries, fruit and citrus fruits are excellent sources. Apples are excellent, eat 1 or 2 a day.

Eating raw vegetables such as carrot and celery is good for massaging the gums and stimulating saliva. Seeds also are natural gentle abrasives and help keep teeth and gums clean.

Foods rich in coenzyme Q10 should be eaten regularly to help keep the gums healthy. Sources include beef, chicken, almonds, ocean salmon, sardines, herring, spinach and eggs.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Herbs can help to keep gums and the mouth healthy if gargled or used as a powder to brush with. The following herbal powders are very useful; oak bark, sage, myrrh, peppermint (to freshen), plantain leaf, walnut husk or leaves, elderflowers, comfrey leaf or root and marshmallow root. Combine the powders and place in a jar with a lid. Dip a wet toothbrush into the powder and brush the teeth and gums for 5 minutes, morning and night. Don't swallow the mix and rinse your mouth thoroughly. Use as a preventative several times a week.
Drink a tea mix of nettle, raspberry leaf, gotu kola and alfalfa daily to provide vital nutrients for gum and tooth health. Equal parts, up to 3 cups daily.
Add 5 drops of barberry tincture and cascara bark tea to any herb tea or mouthwash for their positive effects on the health of the gums and mouth.
Rinsing the mouth with chamomile tea (before swallowing it!) can help keep the gums healthy and reduce inflammation.
 
Neem leaf tea can be used as a mouthwash regularly to help promote healthy teeth and gums.
 
Prickly ash bark promotes excellent blood flow to the extremities of the tissues and promotes all round gum health.
 
Gargle and drink ground ivy tea to help prevent gum disease and bone loss.
 
Lady's mantle tea can be used as a mouthwash to help heal bleeding or inflamed gums, to tighten loose teeth and to promote tissue healing after tooth extractions, operations etc.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Put 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar in a cup of water and gargle and sip throughout the day.
Brush the teeth daily with a mixture of sea salt and bicarbonate of soda (1 part salt 3 parts bicarbonate) as a great deep cleanser and preventative against gum problems.  It also sweetens the breath and gently whitens the teeth.
You can also add a few drops of food grade hydrogen peroxide (3%) to the above powder to make into a paste if you have no metal fillings. Hydrogen peroxide is quite safe if used properly, don't ever leave on in an attempt to whiten teeth as it is very corrosive.
Clean your toothbrush regularly by dipping in a solution of boiling water, before and after use, with a drop or two of an essential oil like peppermint, tea tree, eucalyptus etc, any oil with anti-bacterial properties or by dipping in hydrogen peroxide. That way your brush does not harbour germs.
Floss your teeth several times weekly.
Exercise regularly as exercise reduces the levels of certain proteins associated with gum diseases.
'Oil pulling' is an Ayurvedic technique that improves the general health of the mouth, gums and teeth. In the morning on an empty stomach take a tablespoon or so of organic cold pressed sunflower oil and 'pull' it through the teeth and around the mouth. Do this for a few minutes mixing the oil well with the saliva and squeezing it thoroughly all around the mouth, taking care not to swallow the oil. When you spit out the oil it should have turned a milky colour and be slightly frothy. Clean your teeth and rinse out your mouth to finish. This can be done every morning.

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