Can You Treat Gum Disease at Home?

By Dr. James Forester | Dec 22, 2023 | Gum/Periodontal Disease
stages of gum disease and comorbidities

If you’ve been diagnosed with gingivitis or periodontitis, like half of the US population, you have gum disease. Perhaps you’ve not yet been diagnosed by a dentist, but you suspect that you’ve developed gingivitis. In today’s blog, Dr. Forester of Lifetime Smiles in Johns Creek, GA, explains must-know facts about gum disease and provides home care tips for battling the condition daily.

Note that without treatment, gum disease escalates to cause serious health concerns, as well as tooth loss and jawbone degeneration. To stay healthy and enjoy great oral function, professional intervention is necessary. However, you can do a lot to deter gingivitis in the comfort of your own home.

If you read this article to the end, you’ll learn about:

  • What causes gum disease
  • Symptoms of gum disease
  • Stages of gum disease
  • Effective treatments for gum disease
  • Homecare tips for patients with gum disease
  • Long-term outlook, lifetime care

What Causes Gum Disease

Gum disease is an infection caused by poor oral hygiene, in most cases. Other causes include: hormone fluctuations, use of an albuterol inhaler for asthma, taking certain medications, experiencing dry mouth, smoking, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, TMJ, and bruxism (clenching or grinding teeth).

Since lacking proper oral hygiene is the primary cause, gum disease is often preventable. A great dental hygiene routine involves twice-daily brushing and once-daily flossing. Use a fluoridated toothpaste and brush for two minutes per session. Floss around each and every tooth, all the way to the gum line. You can use an antibacterial mouthwash, if you like, and a tongue scraper can eliminate plaque and food particles from your tongue.

It’s important that you brush and floss daily to remove plaque and food debris from between teeth. When plaque is left on teeth for 48 hours, it calcifies into an insoluble substance called calculus or tartar. At your professional dental cleanings, the hygienist will remove all plaque, calculus, and debris from on and between your teeth. However, until your cleaning, calculus and additional plaque can build up at the gum line and between teeth. The bacteria in these substances irritate gum tissue. 

Bacteria attack the connective tissues that hold the gums against your teeth. As these tissues are destroyed, periodontal pockets form at the gum line. In these dark, wet, warm pockets, bacteria reproduce rapidly. Infection sets in, and without professional intervention, teeth will loosen and fall out; gum tissue and jawbone will die. 

Your twice-a-year checkups and cleanings at Lifetime Smiles will allow our team to evaluate your dental and periodontal health. We’ll check for oral cancer, as well. It’s important for you to address issues that could harm your oral health, like cavities, fractures, tooth wear, TMJ disorder, and tooth loss. We will partner with you to achieve and maintain your good oral health for a lifetime, if you allow us to do so.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

In some patients, gum disease presents no symptoms. The dentist or hygienist may be the first to suspect the presence of gum disease. As the condition progresses, you may notice symptoms like:

  • Bleeding when brushing teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Red, swollen, tender, or swollen gum tissue
  • Mouth pain
  • Pus at the gum line
  • Loose teeth

Patients with gum disease of any stage have an increased risk for:

  • Diabetes and related complications
  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory issues
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • Low-weight births in moms with gum disease

Some research suggests an increased risk for cancers, as well.

Stages of Gum Disease

What begins as gingivitis can become advanced periodontitis over time. Gum disease has four stages:

Gingivitis: This is the only stage at which gum disease can be reversed. Patients may experience no symptoms. Bleeding while brushing is the most common symptom to appear first. A deep cleaning and excellent home hygiene may reverse the condition.

Mild periodontitis: At this point, inflammation can become an issue. You may notice bleeding when brushing, accompanied by red, swollen gum tissue. 

Moderate periodontitis: In this stage, periodontal ligaments become permanently damaged. Additional symptoms may surface, though not everyone experiences pain. 

Advanced periodontitis: This is the most serious and harmful stage of gum disease, when tooth loss occurs. With advanced periodontitis, teeth loosen and fall out, bad breath and a bad taste are common, and teeth may appear longer as gum tissue recedes. Teeth can become abscessed, in which pockets of infection develop at the root tip or in the jawbone. Surgical intervention is usually the best treatment option. Some patients transition to dentures or dental implants after battling advanced periodontitis.

Effective Treatments for Gum Disease

If Dr. Forester or our hygienist diagnose you with gum disease, we may advise a deep dental cleaning. This procedure involves scaling, which is removing plaque and tartar from below the gum line (subgingiva), and root planing, which is smoothing teeth roots to eliminate ridges where bacteria gather. Oftentimes, a deep cleaning needs to be repeated. We will probably advise you to come in for additional cleanings every three months or more frequently until your condition is under control.

Homecare Tips for Patients with Gum Disease

First and foremost, if you smoke, stop. Also talk with your physician if medications, hormones, or dry mouth. Changing your medicines and reducing alcohol intake may help. 

Next, evaluate your homecare routine and tools. Do you need to start flossing? Are you only brushing in the morning? Is your toothbrush old, with frayed bristles?

Start fresh! Commit to following the guidelines for good oral homecare, as noted earlier in this article. Purchase a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste. Floss comes in many types, but you might want to start with pre-threaded flossers. They’re easier to hold and manipulate than traditional floss is.

Also commit to visiting Lifetime Smiles every six months for a checkup and cleaning. Once you have gum disease, even if it’s reversed, the condition is chronic. You’ll be more susceptible to recurrence, so excellent oral hygiene practices are more important now than ever before.

In addition to establishing your effective home care regimen, you may want to try these homeopathic tips to address symptoms:

  • Rinse with a saltwater mixture
  • Use tea tree oil and lemongrass oil as per instructions on the bottle
  • Aloe vera juice as mouthwash
  • Turmeric gel applied to the gums for 10 minutes
  • Drink green tea

Long-term Outlook, Lifetime Care

We invite you to schedule a checkup and consultation at Lifetime Smiles in Johns Creek, GA, by calling 770-232-1830. If you need a second opinion, we offer free consultations. New patients should check out our $129 introductory offer on the website. We are accepting new patients and would love to partner with you for a lifetime of sensational smiles!