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Periodontitis refers to a bacterial infection that affects the gum and other surrounding tissues. It is vital to treat the disease at the earliest as the infection can weaken the underlying bone with time, causing the teeth to fall out.
Home Therapies for Periodontitis
Here are a few complementary interventions that may help alleviate the symptoms of periodontitis to a certain degree and enhance the effectiveness of the standard treatment prescribed by your doctor.
Note: Consult a dental professional before trying out the following listed home remedies to avoid future complications or undue side effects. Precaution is all the more necessary if you are pregnant.
1. Rinse your mouth with salt water
Salt is credited with considerable antiseptic and antibacterial properties that can reduce dental plaque and oral microbial scores. It is also known to relieve the inflammation and pain associated with periodontitis.
However, a salt water rinse should only be used as an adjunctive tool for plaque control. (1) Moreover, you must use the correct concentration of salt as an excess can damage the oral cells.
Caution: Hypertensive patients are advised special caution when using a saline rinse since the intake of salt can make your blood pressure shoot up.
Salt exhibits antibacterial properties that help prevent oral problems such as microbial scores and plaque. Moreover, rinsing your mouth with salt water aids in relieving symptoms of periodontitis, such as pain and inflammation.
2. Use turmeric
Curcumin, the main active compound in turmeric, exhibits antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. This helps bring down the inflammatory response associated with periodontitis by curbing the release of inflammatory cytokines.
Multiple studies have shown that the application of curcumin, along with full mouth scaling and root planing (SRP) is more effective in inhibiting the growth of plaque-forming bacteria than SRP alone. (2)(3)(4)(5)
Turmeric contains high amounts of curcumin, which possesses anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can help relieve the symptoms of periodontitis.
3. Take the help of guava leaves
Guava packs a lot of antioxidant properties due to its rich reserve of vitamin C. Plus, it is known to exhibit antiplaque, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. The therapeutic benefits of guava leaves for periodontal health are primarily attributed to two flavonoids, guaijaverin and quercetin.
A study demonstrated that guava leaves might be useful in inhibiting the growth of periodontitis-causing bacteria. (6)
Guava contains high amounts of vitamin C and exhibits antioxidant, antiplaque, analgesic, and inflammatory properties useful in treating periodontitis.
4. Rinse with hydrogen peroxide
Pre-rinsing with a hydrogen-based mouthwash before brushing tends to loosen up the food debris trapped in between the teeth for a more thorough cleaning.
The long-term use of hydrogen peroxide-containing mouthwashes in conjunction with your daily oral hygiene regimen can inhibit plaque accumulation and thereby mitigate early-stage periodontal inflammation. (7) However, the short-term use of H2O2 mouthwashes alone will have little to no impact on your plaque scores. (7)(8)
Hydrogen peroxide is credited with potent antibacterial properties that may help reduce the oral microbial count and thereby reduce the incidence or severity of gum disease.
5. Use herbal mouthwashes
The following herbal mouthwashes can be used to treat periodontitis.
a. Green tea
b. Holy basil
Holy basil helps to disinfect the mouth and treat a number of periodontal concerns that may result from an overgrowth of oral bacteria, such as bleeding gums, plaque, toothaches, and pus or pain in the gums. (11)(12)
c. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is known to exhibit antibacterial, antiseptic, and fungicidal properties that may help improve your oral health and reduce the formation of bacterial plaque. Consequently, it prevents or alleviates the early symptoms of periodontitis, such as gingival bleeding and inflammation. (13)(14)
Note: Make sure to spit out the tea tree mouthwash completely after rinsing as tea tree oil can trigger several adverse side effects if ingested.
Herbal mouthwashes exhibit antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiseptic properties that aid in preventing and treating oral infections.
6. Consume omega-3 PUFAs
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) can work as protective agents against periodontal disease. (15) These can be consumed through fish intake or supplementation, which is usually available as fish oil liquid or capsules.
Including omega-3 PUFAs in your diet helps prevent the formation of periodontal disease.
7. Try oil pulling
This age-old, Ayurvedic therapy involves rinsing your mouth with edible oil, such as sesame oil, coconut oil, and olive oil, to help dislodge and remove the harmful oral bacteria.
Although there is some scientific support for the use of oil pulling to promote periodontal health, further studies are needed to conclusively establish the beneficial effects of this alternative practice. (19)(20)
8. Apply a baking soda paste
Baking soda, similar to salt, has antiseptic properties that help prevent infections. It also regulates the acidity in your mouth to help prevent gum problems. (21)
You can make a thick baking soda paste by mixing ¼ teaspoon of baking soda in water and apply it to your gums, leaving it for around 2 minutes. Alternatively, you may make a more dilute solution and use it for rinsing.
Caution: This remedy is not backed by sufficient clinical studies and, therefore, should only be used upon consulting with your doctor.
Preventive Self-Care Tips
Here are some oral hygiene habits that may help reduce the risk or severity of periodontitis:
- Brush your teeth twice a day. Use an appropriately sized and soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride-containing toothpaste.
- Floss once a day. This helps remove the gunk stuck between your teeth.
- Clean your teeth thoroughly. People with crooked or crowded teeth or dental fillings, crowns, and dentures are more prone to plaque accumulation in hard-to-clean spaces.
- Refrain from tobacco use. Avoid cigarette smoking, vaping, and chewing tobacco since tobacco use is associated with an increased risk of periodontal disease.
- Regulate your blood sugar. People with diabetes must regulate their blood sugar levels to prevent the onset of gum disease.
- Get a dental checkup every 6 months. This allows your dentist/periodontist to monitor your oral health closely and catch any sign of gum disease, right at its onset.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Your oral health is affected by what you put in your mouth. Choose low-carb foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins C and D, and dietary fibers to reduce the incidence or severity of gingival and periodontal inflammation. (22)(23)
Periodontitis Versus Gingivitis
Gingivitis is a precursor to periodontitis, also known as gum disease. It is characterized by inflammation and bleeding of the gums due to a buildup of oral plaque.
Periodontitis, on the other hand, refers to the destruction of the supporting structures of the teeth. Gingivitis causes early-stage gum inflammation and paves the way for periodontitis when left untreated.
Periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum infection wherein the bacterial plaque extends deep into the gumline and weakens the foundation of your teeth.
Most-Asked Questions About Periodontitis
Is periodontal disease contagious?
Periodontal disease is essentially an inflammatory response to bacterial buildup inside the mouth, particularly under the gumline. While the inflammation itself is non-contagious, the periodontal bacteria that cause it can be transmitted to other people through infected saliva.
To minimize the risk of contracting periodontitis through a salivary exchange, you must avoid sharing utensils or oral health equipment with the infected person.
Does smoking worsen periodontitis?
Smoking can significantly jeopardize your oral health. It increases your risk of developing complications, including a dry socket after having periodontal treatments.
Moreover, smoking reduces blood supply to the gums, thus minimizing gingival bleeding. Due to this, periodontitis often goes undetected in smokers, in turn leading to delayed treatment.
Your gum will bleed more once you stop smoking as the blood supply will return to normal. Your dentist or oral hygienist will suggest the proper treatment to make the bleeding stop. (24)
Can periodontal disease cause an ear infection?
The pain emanating from an infected ear can be felt in your teeth and jaw, but this does not mean that the infection has spread to the mouth. Similarly, there isn’t any substantial proof to suggest that periodontal infections can increase the risk of ear infections. (25)
Can aloe vera help to manage periodontitis?
Aloe vera can be potentially used for treating periodontitis owing to its antibacterial, antifungal, analgesic, and soothing properties. (26)(27)(28) Freshly extracted aloe vera gel can be directly applied to the affected gums for 10 minutes and then washed with cold water.
Alternatively, you can also use an aloe-vera based mouthwash or dilute the gel with water to make an oral rinse at home.
Can a bee propolis mouthwash cure periodontitis?
Bee propolis is a resinous compound produced by bees that has been used as a healing agent for a variety of ailments, including gum disease.
There is still no clarity about what exactly makes this substance so therapeutic, but it has been included in oral hygiene products such as mouthwashes designed to reduce plaque and delivered good results.
However, evidence of its effectiveness is still minimal and needs to be corroborated by more rigorous research. As of now, bee propolis is considered more of a preventive tool rather than a cure for periodontitis and other gum problems. (29)(30)
Note: If you are allergic to honey or any other bee product, there is a high probability that you will be allergic to bee propolis as well. Thus, you must rule out any such allergies before trying any bee propolis product. Start with small amounts, and discontinue use if you notice even the slightest irritation.
While regular checkups are essential for preventing periodontitis, it needs to be coupled with proper oral hygiene measures at home, which include daily brushing, flossing, and consuming a healthy diet.
Proper oral care is also vital post-periodontal treatment to prevent a recurrence. If the infection doesn’t improve, make sure to visit your dentist.