Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease, an infection of the tissues that surround and support the teeth. The cause is plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and creates an environment that can damage gums. The bacteria also form acids from starchy foods, which can lead to tooth decay.
Studies suggest that some 30 percent of the population is genetically susceptible to gum disease, and stress may also be a factor. Certain drugs, including birth control pills, anti-depressants, and some heart medicines may increase your risk as well.
With gingivitis, gums become red, swollen and tender and bleed easily. Fortunately, with proper care, you can reverse the disease process and prevent further damage both to the gums and, more importantly, to the bones that support your teeth. Here’s how:
- If you smoke, quit. Smoking is one of the most significant risks in the development and progression of gum diseases and can lower the chances of successful treatment. Smoking interferes with healing by restricting blood flow, making smokers less likely to respond to treatment and more likely to lose teeth.
- Take 100 mg of coenzyme Q10 daily. I also suggest taking a calcium supplement daily (500 to 700 mg divided into two or three doses) and a multivitamin/mineral supplement that contains antioxidant vitamins C, E and the mineral selenium.
- Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. I recommend using a natural toothpaste containing myrrh (a natural antibacterial) or chlorine dioxide. I also suggest making a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide and massaging it into your gums once a day. Leave it on for a few minutes, and then rinse your mouth with water.
- Be sure to get a dental check up every six months, and ask your dentist if you should consult a periodontist, a specialist in gum diseases.
Andrew Weil, M.D.