My Hidden Shame (Sob) and 8 Helpful at Home Gum Disease Treatments for the Road
So dear readers, or reader as the case may be. I have a confession to make. No, I’m not secretly a unicorn, even though that would be super cool. No, my secret is that I actually have sucktastic teeth (yup, made up word. Just roll with it). Okay that’s a lie. I historically have good teeth. That is until this nasty little infection crept up into my gums and ruined my dreams of eternal, dental perfection. What is this demon of periodontal doom you may wonder? Well none other than the malicious, rotten, no good, dirty scoundrel known as Gingivitis (now where are all the at Home Gum Disease Treatments hhiding?).
Yes, my gums and teeth have succumbed to the redness, swelling, bleeding, and general recession that this disease causes. Now, this probably doesn’t sound that bad right? I mean, it’s a common disease so how could it be a big deal? Well no, it’s not cancer serious but the problem with Gingivitis is that left untreated, it causes your gums to recede and it can lead to increased sensitivity and tooth damage as more and more of the tooth becomes exposed above the gum line (Translation? It sucks and makes your teeth feel like they’re falling out).
Well, like any good girl, when I saw blood in my saliva, I went to the dentist and tried to figure out what was causing it. Now I had heard of gum disease before so I was like, “Ehh, thank God its nothing serious, ” when I heard the diagnosis. But after months of flossing and brushing twice a day, coupled with routine cleanings every three months to keep plaque at bay, I saw no results. In fact, my gums were still receding.
This irritated me because I was doing absolutely EVERYTHING I could think of. So I asked my dentist what else could be done. Surely something could rid me of my gum disease woes since they have treatments for AIDS now, right?
Well, I was totally shocked when my dentist informed me that there was nothing they could do and that eventually more and more of my teeth would become exposed and slowly wear away (don’t worry, I’m currently getting a second opinion).
I was livid. So basically, you’re telling me at the ripe old age of 30 that I should just pack it in and get dentures because my teeth will slowly rot away from Gingivitis? Yeah, I was not taking this lying down. I was going to do everything in my power to make sure that I wouldn’t have to fork over $20,000 for a whole new set of teeth (If it came down to it, I would just travel to Bali for a little bit of medical tourism since they have great dentists there who are a whole lot cheaper than the ones in the States).
But being the resourceful woman that I like to think I am (jury is still out on that one. I have plenty of blonde moments), I decided to check out a few at home gum disease treatments before I sign up for a whole new set of teeth.
And that my friends, is where this post was born. Now I know that this is probably not the most intriguing post on ye olde blogosphere. I mean, no one likes going to the dentist, let alone talking about teeth (it’s not like I’m blowing the whistle on Watergate or anything, even though that would be pretty cool). But I wanted to create this list of products for anyone like me who has gum disease and just doesn’t know what to do. These are just all the things that I use to maintain my tooth and gum health while I’m on vacation. Because if I’m brutally honest, I love to eat and sore teeth and gums are just not gonna cut it while I’m traveling (and by love to eat, I mean devour anything that isn’t nailed down).
Food is a huge part of traveling that I enjoy and well, I kind of need teeth to do that (I also think the whole pirate, missing teeth look would not enhance my beauty). So this post is for all my fellow gum disease sufferers (Shout out to the perodontically challenged). I truly hope some of these tips make your teeth feel and look a whole lot better.
***Friendly reminder that I am not an expert or dentist. I am merely sharing the products that worked for me so consult your dentist to make sure that these products are right for you. Also note that these products and techniques are not a replacement for regular dental visits and cleanings (Okay, that is the end of my disclaimer. Totally reminds me of the openning for Beavis and Buthead from back in the day).
8 Easy, At Home Gum Disease Treatments
1. Brushing (soft brush), flossing, and going to the dentist (DUH).
I put this on the list as a friendly reminder than none of these products are a substitute for brushing, flossing and going to the dentist on a regular basis. Only the dentist can manually remove all the plaque build up that causes tooth decay, so don’t take these products and think you can avoid the dentist. These products and this guide are designed to work in conjunction with your daily oral health routine.
That means, don’t be a slacker and make sure you brush (Use a soft brush because over brushing can cause your gums to recede even more) and floss twice daily. Also go to the dentist every six months for routine cleanings and checkups (I’m extra lucky and have the privilege of going to the dentist every 3 months because my gum disease is just that awesome).
***Apply toothpaste to the area where your gums and teeth meet. Keep it there overnight and this will strengthen the enamel of your teeth (at least that’s what my dentist told me).
2. Oil Pulling (Coconut Oil $10.79 for 16 ounces)
When I first heard about this, my immediate thought was, “What kind of voodoo is this and how insanely difficult is it going to be?” Well, first of all its pretty easy. When you wake up, before you have eaten anything, you gargle with oil for about 20 minutes. Typically I use coconut oil because it tastes the best and helps whiten your teeth (if nothing else), but pretty much any non-toxic oil will do the trick (sesame oil, olive oil, etc.).
Now you may be wondering why on earth should I gargle with oil to help my teeth? Basically oil pulling (also know as “kavala” or “gundusha,”) is an ancient Ayurvedic dental technique that supposedly draws out toxins in your body to improve oral health and overall health in general.
Does it work? I’ve tried it and think it’s a good replacement for mouth wash since most brands actually kill both the good and bad bacteria that inhabit your mouth (coconut oil has antibacterial properties that inhibit the growth of bad bacteria while leaving the good bacteria unharmed), but it didn;t change my life and all of a sudden, give me a whole new set of teeth.
But it is helpful since coconut oil contains the antioxidant Vitamin E, as well as lauric acid, which both have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that help kill the bacteria that cause gum disease.
3. CoQ10 Vitamins (120, 100 mg softgels for $13.65)
Who knew that a vitamin could not only enhance gum health but impact your energy level as well. Plus, chances are that you are not getting enough CoQ10 in your diet so this supplement is something that you can to add to your oral, and overall, health regime.
To increase absorption, take this supplement with a fatty or oily meal, and I don’t mean a Big Mac with extra fries. Generally half an avocado or a teaspoon of olive oil should suffice (Oh I guess you want to know how I liked it. I think it is definitely helpful and makes getting up a bit easier. I still need coffee though. So not a morning person).
***Optimally you should take at least 200 mg, twice a day. But dentists recommend taking a minimum of at least 200 mg a day.
***It is almost impossible to take too much of this supplement but my advice is to stick with the above guidelines since I am not a doctor or dentist.
4. Probiotics for Oral Health (23 chewable tablets with 3 billion CFU for $13.99)
I had absolutely no idea that they made probiotics for your teeth. But apparently they do and I bought some because well why not? The probiotics are supposed to help by increasing the amount of friendly bacteria in your body.
These bacteria in turn help boost your immune system and prevent pathogens from binding to your body’s tissues. While this process happens throughout your body, they have also been found to be an effective, natural and economic way to fight gum disease, plaque and bad breath. Probiotics can even stop, slow or delay the process of infection that leads to oral disease. Therefore, do yourself a favor and grab some probiotic supplements (at the very least, it will kick your digestive tract into high gear).
***Any probiotic can help with your oral health so it doesn’t need to be an oral probiotic.
***A probiotic with one to two million CFUs is recommended daily. However, if you are taking antibiotics or suffer from diarrhea then you can take a probiotic with up to 10 billion CFUs until the problem clears up (or for a maximum of two weeks).
***Do not take five probiotic capsules containing two billion CFUs because this may not give you the proper strain balance. If you’re having a problem and need more CFUs, purchase a brand that contains that many in one capsule.
5. Parodontax ($5.20 for 3.4 ounces) or Sensodyne ($5.24 for 4 ounces) Brand Toothpaste
I use either brand and don’t see a difference. I just like them because they help reduce bleeding from your gums and overall tooth sensitivity. Each of these brands does this by flighting that ever present, arch nemesis of oral health, plaque (Also the leading cause of bleeding gums. No one wants their mouth to look like a crime scene).
By breaking plaque apart and destroying the bacteria (Boo! Hiss) in your mouth, these products help prevent gingivitis (Hip hip hooray). As an added bonus, these toothpaste brands also strengthen teeth by keeping the seal between gums and teeth tight, adding an additional layer of protection against gum disease (definitely switch to either brand because they really help with tooth ache and reduce bleeding).
6. Colgate Peroxyl Mouth Rinse ($9.03 for 16.9 fluid ounces)
I love this product because it is alcohol free which is great for me since I don’t drink and don’t like the taste of alcohol. It also has hydrogen peroxide which is a natural antiseptic that breaks down into oxygen and water when coming into contact with catalase, an enzyme found in the blood. This rapid release of oxygen has an antibacterial effect that reduces infection and soothes inflamed gums. Or to put it simply, it works on cuts so why not put it into your mouth to ease your sore gums. I think this product is a keeper!
7. OraMD ($22.97 for o.5 ounces)
So I know that this one is pretty expensive but honestly, out of all the products listed, this is the most effective one. Seriously, after using it for a few days, the dull ache in my teeth subsided and my chompers started to feel normal again.
Now, the bottle says to use it instead of toothpaste but I use it in conjunction with toothpaste because I’m insane, but it makes me feel better. I also apply it to my gums and teeth after I have brushed and it seems to help things feel better (the slight tingle makes me feel its working) .
The other great thing about this product is that it is a 100% natural blend of sweet almond kernel, spearmint and peppermint oils, which are all non-toxic and clinically proven to kill periodontal bacteria (Yipee).
I also love that it is a liquid because it can penetrate in between the teeth and gums, which is where a lot of bacteria hide and wreak havoc on your gums.
8. Tongue Scrapper ($6.85)
Okay so this one sounds totally weird right? Like some ancient wicken ritual where you blend eye of newt with slug skin and find yourself muttering, “Bubble bubble toil trouble.” Yeah well I thought it was weird till I tried it. Basically what you do is first thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything, use a tongue scraper (or a metal spoon) and scrape your tongue from back to front 7 to 10 times. Once you’re done, rinse off the buildup in the sink and continue with your normal oral hygiene routine.
And guess what? This actually gives you better breath by removing that white film on your tongue that is really just a combination of bacteria and food debris (ewww). It also improves your taste buds because by cleaning them, they actually work better and accordingly, make food taste better (That means I can stuff my face and actually taste it!).
But the most important thing to me is that it reduces levels of streptococcus mutans and lactobacillus in your mouth, both of which are plaque-causing bacteria that can lead to cavities and gum disease. So not only will you improve the health of your gums, but you’ll enhance the overall wellness of your mouth (all the better to eat more food on vacation with my dear).
Travel Oral Hygiene Made Easy
There you have it, all the products I use so that I don’t have to book my Bali dental visit ASAP. Sure, Bali is great and all, but I’d rather spend my money on travel than getting a whole new set of teeth. And while I am without a doubt no medical or dental expert (don’t ask me anything about anatomy. I am totally hopeless and think the heart is where the spleen is and it’s just a mess), these are the products that help keep my teeth healthy, and feeling great while I travel. Cause I mean you need healthy teeth to eat all the cake humanly possible because calories don’t count on vacation right? I’m joking (I’m not at all), but happy teeth do make for a more enthusiastic and better feeling traveler. Now get out of here and go floss or brush or scrape something (aren’t at Home Gum Disease Treatments just grand? LoL), stat!
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