After being diagnosed with periodontal disease – and trying to avoid surgery – one mom has found it’s possible to reverse periodontal disease naturally.
Guest post by Erin Josefchak
Millions of North Americans are affected by periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation to a more a serious disease that results in major damage to gums and the bones that support teeth.
About Gum Disease
Our mouths are full of bacteria. These bacteria form “plaque” on our teeth. Plaque that is not removed can harden and form “tartar” that brushing can’t always get rid of.
The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they become. With time, this bacteria buildup causes inflammation, called “gingivitis,” which causes gums to become red, swollen, and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed.
When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to “periodontitis” where gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called “pockets”) that become infected. Our immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line and starts to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. Not cool.
To make matters worse, if you are pregnant or nursing you are more susceptible to gum disease! As if you didn’t already have enough to think and worry about! Due to hormonal changes, 40 percent of women will develop gingivitis sometime during their pregnancy, a condition called pregnancy gingivitis (source).
Some studies have shown that there is a relationship between periodontitis and pregnancy complications like preterm delivery, low birth weight, etc. (study, study), and even cardiovascular disease and diabetes (study, source).
I have always had dental issues. I wore braces top and bottom for four years as a teenager, complete with metal headgear (good times!). I had teeth growing in my palate that had to be removed, teeth that had to be turned 90 degrees, the works. Today, I still have permanent braces behind my bottom front teeth and two impacted wisdom teeth that I still have not removed because the roots are wrapped around a major nerve. Yes, wow! Honestly, I thought my problems were behind me in my twenties.
Then I got pregnant. Followed by nursing for a year. Then I got pregnant a few weeks after I stopped nursing baby #1. Followed by nursing for another year. Four years of raging hormones!
Sometime during that period my gums started bleeding. Then it got worse. I went to see my dentist and was told that it was normal because I was pregnant and it would go away once I gave birth. Well, it didn’t get much better after I gave birth – in fact, from then on it only got worse.
Fast forward to a few years later, my gums were still inflamed and bleeding. I was nursing baby #2 and I had a new dentist since we had recently moved. That is when I was diagnosed with early periodontal disease!
They referred me to a periodontal specialist and said I would need grafting. Gum grafting basically involves removing healthy tissue from elsewhere in your mouth (usually the palate) to repair the diseased gums.
Alternative Methods to Treating Periodontitis
I made an appointment with the specialist but did my own research into costs and alternative methods. A friend who had already had grafting done confirmed the estimate of my dentist – $5,000 to $8,000! I have dental insurance but STILL…!
So what did I decide?
I decided to opt out of traditional gum grafting and take my chances with alternative methods. First, my dentist performed a deep cleaning procedure called “scaling and root planning (SRP)” which involves pulling the gums slightly away from the tooth to remove plaque and tartar below the gum line. A few months later after my gums healed from the SRP, I started laser periodontal therapy (great information video here) which involves removing the diseased gum tissue (up to 1mm) using a fiber optic laser. I had four treatments in all.
A few months after I finished the final treatment, my dentist measured the gum pockets again and there was significant improvement! Pockets that were 5mm or 6mm before were now measured 3mm or 4mm. The treatment had worked and damage was reversed – no more bleeding and inflamed gums! In fact, studies show that in 80% of cases, pocket depth can be restored to 3mm using this method (source).
The best part is that the total cost was a lot less than I expected to pay, compared to traditional methods. Total cost of my treatments was about $1000 vs $5000-$8000 (before insurance refund)! Happy dance!
At home I continue with my regular oral hygiene routine. Even after strong suggestion from my dentist, I continue to use non fluoridated toothpaste for myself and my family. This was a personal choice, but it may not be the right choice for your family. Here is why we cut out the fluoride (article).
In addition to flossing, I also use interdental brushes to brush in between each tooth near the gum line. Studies prove that interdental brushes remove more plaque compared to flossing and brushing alone (study). And, of course, tea tree oil has been proven to prevent plaque and gingivitis (study). I add one drop of Tea Tree oil to the bristles before each use.
I also added a homemade mouthwash to my routine. (See recipe below.) It contains xylitol, honey, baking soda, and essential oils. All are excellent natural ingredients for our teeth! Studies show that xylitol, a sugar alcohol derived from birch, prevents cavities (study). The toothpaste we buy also contains xylitol. We love xylitol so much that we also use it as a sugar replacement at home (coffee sweetener, baking, etc.).
Another study showed that honey can also be used to prevent cavities (study). And yet another study showed that mouthwashes containing essential oils (particularly tea tree, clove and basil) showed effectiveness against plaque and gingivitis (study). Baking soda has also proved effective as a tooth whitener (study) and prevents enamel erosion (study).
Two years later, I am still using these preventative methods and no gingivitis in sight!
Homemade Mouthwash Recipe
- 1 cup hot filtered water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tsp xylitol
- 1 tsp honey*
- 4 drops basil or peppermint essential oil
- 4 drops tea tree oil
- 1 drop clove oil
- Dissolve xylitol in hot water. Let cool.
- Combine all ingredients in pint sized jar. Shake until combined.
- Shake before each use, if needed. Do not swallow.
* Local non-pasteurized honey is best and, if it is in your budget, raw Manuka honey is even better!
What are your natural remedies to prevent gum disease?
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, dentist, nurse, or licensed healthcare practitioner. Information obtained from this website is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by any health agency (FDA or Health Canada). Products and information are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult your physician before making any health decisions for you and your family. Thank you!
Erin Josefchak is a wife to Marc, mommy to Tyler & Sierra, saved by Jesus Christ, amateur writer, and aspiring herbalist living in rural Quebec, Canada. She is committed to leading a faith-filled, frugal, and chemical-free life.
Erin’s passion is discovering the healing powers of God’s amazing creations – plants! She wants to bring glory to God and bless others with her knowledge of plants to increase their faith, improve their quality of life, and help them heal naturally with plants and prayer. She loves reading the Word, doing research, coffee, writing, baking, and making memories with her family!