Consistent tooth brushing and flossing, as we all know, helps harden gums and keep them strong. Healthy gums are more resistant to the effects of plaque, which can cause cavities, root death and gingivitis, or gum disease. The symptoms of these are red, swollen gums, bleeding gums and loose or missing teeth.
Even with a great tooth-care regimen, however, some people still experience more sensitive and soft gums than others. These factors can be caused by genetics, or some medications and diets. Those with soft gums will need to reach for other remedies to cure their gum problems and relieve gum pain.
Rather than reach for chemicals or harsh products that exacerbate the pain, let’s take a look at eight other natural remedies for sensitive gums:
Cinnamon, as the name suggests, contains cinnamic acid. This acid gives cinnamon its potent flavor. Cinnamon can either be ground as spice or extracted of its oils in extracts, tinctures and scents. The spice, and its cousin the clove, also fights bacteria as a natural anti-bacterial remedy. Lastly, pure cinnamon repels water from the surfaces it touches; while ordinarily this can cause dry mouth, when diluted with water it greatly reduces gum swelling and thereby gum pain. Rub cinnamon oil directly onto the gums as needed, drink cinnamon-infused teas, or gargle with a very small pinch of cinnamon diffused in warm water. Caution: never attempt to ingest cinnamon powder on its own.
Salts absorb a great many things, including water and bacteria. Salt pulls moisture from swollen gums and helps disinfect disease-ridden gums, thereby alleviating pain and redness. Salt acts as a disinfectant of this kind in many parts of the body, including sore throats. Salt solutions can also promote blood flow and rejuvenate gum cells.
The easiest way to use salt is to gargle with warm salt water after brushing your teeth. Make sure the water is warm, but not hot, as soft gums are very sensitive to temperature extremes. Mix about a teaspoon of salt per eight-ounce glass of water and swish in small increments. Do not swallow the salt water.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil reduces redness, swelling and bacteria from skin, easing all ailments from dandruff to rosacea to acne. In breaking down bacteria, it can dissolve buildup on the skin, from yeast or dirt that clogs pores. Fortunately, tea tree oil works the same way inside the body, for the gums. Tea tree oil banishes bacteria from the gum wall and helps reduce plaque and stains. While some toothpastes are infused with the oil, it’s best to rub a single drop onto your gums, either with a finger or a bit of cotton. Then, massage your gums gently with a toothbrush. Tea tree oil cools like mint and can help alleviate pain as it begins to work.
Multiple studies show that coconut oil pulling—that is, swishing once daily with a tablespoon of coconut oil, for twenty minutes—will over time whiten teeth, cleanse the mouth of bacteria, and pull other toxins from the body through the roof of the mouth. In so doing, coconut oil treats the gums first. Coconut oil can strip the teeth of harmful bacteria and, over time, plaque buildup. After gently removing stains, coconut oil can leave behind whiter teeth. Additionally, studies have shown that coconut oil contains enzymes that reduce the growth of a specific mouth bacteria. This bacteria causes tooth decay.
Thyme, like salt, expunges bacteria from the surfaces of skin. Thyme assists toothpastes in riding the teeth of plaque and other, less visible microbes. The herb thyme in food can also help rid the body of bacteria, or ease bacterial infections. Some studies show that thyme and its root can heal bacterial infections more readily than other remedies and should be tried first. Brew a weak thyme tea and use as a gargle, or merely boil the herb or root in water, allow cooling slightly, and gargling once daily for added effects. You can drink thyme in tea, but after gargling with a thyme extraction it’s best not to swallow the compound.
Green Tea, in addition to helping ease swelling and flushing away bacteria, can break down complex sugars and other compounds that may get caught in between teeth and cause plaque. One study shows that green tea used to rinse between the teeth reduced starch buildup and plaque in the teeth. Other studies show that green tea drinkers, as opposed to other teas, have more fortified and whiter teeth. Green tea contains compounds that dissolve undetectable coating left on the teeth. These can irritate the gums and cause pain.
Of course, the easiest way to use green tea for this purpose is to drink the tea. Brew and drink green tea prior to brushing teeth, or a few times throughout the day.
The nutrients and healthy fats in avocado help fortify bones, including your teeth. Avocado strengthens teeth and helps them better resist bacteria due to plaque. Strong teeth help ease sensitive gum symptoms. While the avocado itself should be a staple part of your diet, avocado leaves can alleviate more immediate symptoms and help prevent teeth loosening due to weak gums. Chew avocado leaves once daily, like a gum.
Lemons are an active antiseptic, loaded with acids to dissolve bacteria and food, and vitamin C to strengthen the bones and help the gums produce their own bacteria-fighting compounds. Rinse your mouth with diluted lemon juice, about half a teaspoon, in warm water. Use daily, but no more—lemon juice can become a powerful dissolver and wear on tooth enamel. Or, once biweekly, apply a small amount of lemon juice to a Q-tip and massage the gums before rinsing. Some make a mild paste of lemon and honey, or lemon and salt, to help the lemon adhere to the gums and work more effectively.
When fighting sensitive gums, seek dehydrating herbs, antiseptic herbs and other compounds with vitamin C and nutrients. These ingredients are proven to strengthen gums and teeth and fight future infections. How do you make sure your teeth stay healthy?