Gingivitis and Your Health

April 6th, 2015 by Loretta Lanphier, NP, BCTN, CN, CH, HHP

Gingivitis and Your Health

Most of the time bleeding gums, typically the result of gingivitis, are simply a wake up call that we had take better care of our mouths by brushing and flossing more effectively. When we see blood in the sink while brushing or flossing, a few adjustments in our daily dental care routine are all that is usually needed. This is generally true, especially in this country where we are blessed to have adequate oral care and, for the most part, a fairly nutritious diet.

What Are Bleeding Gums-Gingivitis?

Bleeding gums are most often the result of a gum disorder known as gingivitis (inflammation of the “gingival”), but they can occur for other reasons as well. If you suffer from bleeding gums or gingivitis you are not alone. It is estimated that up to 80% of American adults will suffer from some degree of inflamed, bleeding gums at some point in their lives. The problem is even worse in many other parts of the world where dental hygiene is poor, and malnutrition is common.

Gum disease or bleeding gums is not generally a serious problem in its early stages. However, if left untreated it can worsen into a significant infectious situation that can lead to tooth and bone loss, as well as systemic, body wide infections that can be dangerous and even fatal in rare cases. Bleeding gums can also indicate certain cancers or other serious illnesses. The good news is that gum disease is almost totally preventable, and can be successfully treated in almost all cases.

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What Causes Gingivitis?

Since gingivitis is the most common reason for bleeding gums, we’ll take an in depth look at it. By far the most common cause of gingivitis is “plaque” which is the result of poor dental hygiene. Plaque is an invisible, sticky film that is a combination of food particles and bacteria that form on your teeth. Plaque is formed by a chemical reaction between bacteria in the mouth and starches and sugars from foods you eat. Plaque is normally removed by sufficiently brushing your teeth, but if you slack in this area and plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth for longer than 24 hours, it will begin to harden into a substance called tartar or calculus, which cannot be removed through simple brushing or flossing. It must be taken care of via a professional cleaning by your dentist. Calculus is an irritant to the “gingival,” the part of your gums that are found at the base of your teeth. Calculus also acts as a “reservoir” for bacteria, so unless the tartar is removed, the gums continue to deteriorate and become red, swollen, and will bleed easily.

The good news is that this primary cause of gingivitis and the resulting sore, bleeding gums is preventable through sensible, consistent brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings by your dentist. A diet that avoids excessive sugar and simple carbohydrates will go a long ways towards improving your oral health as well. So this condition is totally avoidable by making lifestyle choices that lead to wellness and not disease. Prevention is truly the best medicine.

Besides plaque, there are other conditions that can result in gingivitis and/or bleeding gums. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Cancer treatments:  Bleeding gums are a common side effect of many chemotherapy and radiation therapies that are often used to treat cancer. They can lead to dry mouth (lack of saliva can cause bleeding gums and lower the mouth’s ability to fight infections), irritated oral tissues including the gums, greater incidence of oral infections, and slower healing of existing issues in the teeth, gums, and other areas of the mouth.
  • Certain medications:  Any drug that dries out the mouth by nature increases the chance of oral issues such as bleeding gums. Saliva is a natural cleanser that helps protect teeth and gums from bacterial infections. Drugs such as antihistamines, some antidepressants, and cold remedies are just some of hundreds of prescription and over-the-counter drugs that can have negative affects on oral health. Other drugs sometimes lead to excessive growth of gum tissues, and may allow for greater irritation by trapping bacteria and plaque more extensively. Examples of these include immunosuppressive drugs (often given to organ transplant patients to help reduce the risk of rejection of the organ by the body), calcium channel blockers, and anti-seizure medications.
  • Viral and fungal infections:  The vast majority of oral infections that can cause bleeding gums are of a bacterial nature, but there are also other types of infections that can irritate the gums as well. The herpes virus can trigger an oral condition known as acute herpetic gingivostomatitis that commonly produces painful mouth sores and irritated and bleeding gums. Oral thrush is a fungal infection that causes white lesions to form on the tongue and roof of the mouth, but can also spread to the gums as well. The fungus that causes thrush is normally found in the mouth at much lower levels than those found in folks with thrush infections. Oral thrush is a common condition in many HIV/AIDS patients.
  • Other medical conditions: Leukemia patients will often experience gingivitis and bleeding gums when leukemic cells invade the oral tissues. Leukemia also lowers the immune system function, which can itself result in unhealthy, bleeding gums. Other, more rare, conditions that can attack the gums include a chronic inflammatory disease called oral lichen planus, and autoimmune skin disorders such as pemphigus and pemphigoid. Extreme cases of these diseases can cause the gum tissue to actually peel away in layers.
  • Hormonal changes: When hormone levels fluctuate, such as during pregnancy or menopause, many women experience uncharacteristic problems with gum disease and bleeding gums. In pregnancy, morning sickness can make the problem even worse due to the irritation caused by frequent vomiting.
  • Nutritional deficiencies:  A diet lacking in certain nutrients can definitely contribute to poor oral health and bleeding gums. Adequate amounts of vitamins B and C, as well as calcium, are particularly of importance.
  • Diabetes: Diabetics suffer from gingivitis and bleeding gums more readily than the general population because of elevated blood sugar levels. Many diabetics also suffer with a dry mouth, which means less saliva to keep the mouth clean and free from bacterial infections. Diabetes also tends to compromise the immune system, which also contributes to poor dental health.
  • Tobacco use:  Smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco products are a bad idea health wise for a thousand different reasons, but they are particularly hard on oral health. They promote gum decay, oral infections, encourage the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth and gums, and also lower the effectiveness of the immune system.
  • Depression: Decreased energy and motivation, as well as negative self-views associated with depression may have a detrimental effect on oral hygiene habits and compliance with treatment recommendations. A depressed patient frequently has little interest or energy for even basic self-care activities. Negative cognitive distortions further the depressive spiral in which care of self is neglected. In addition to the vegetative effects of depression, physiological mechanisms may also affect dental health. Depression is believed to be associated with decreased metabolism of serotonin, which in turn is associated with a tendency to consume more carbohydrates. This establishes favorable conditions for the growth of acidduric bacteria. The presence of high counts of these bacteria is an indication for the development and progression of dental caries. The presence of pathogenic bacteria colonization may also be caused by impaired immune system functioning related to depression. Antidepressant medications have been shown to cause hyposalivation, which though thought to be short-term, may actually persist over long periods. This may lead to caries or other dental concerns.

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What Complications Can Occur From Gingivitis and Bleeding Gums?

Advanced gum disease can escalate from gingivitis to a condition called periodontitis that can lead to much more serious consequences. Possible symptoms include tooth and bone loss, blood poisoning from infections that spread to the circulatory system, and even increased risk for heart attack and stroke. Women with advanced gum disease also have a greater chance of giving birth prematurely.

Another complication from severe gum disease is a condition known as Vincent’s stomatitis or acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG) that results in painful ulcerations that become infected and bleed excessively. The condition is also called by the slang term trench mouth due to its prevalence during World War I. Soldiers on the front lines had other things to worry about than proper dental and oral care, but this infection became a major medical problem for the allied troops. It is rarely found today in the Western World, but is still a problem in some underdeveloped countries where both dental care and nutrition are poor. Some severe cases have resulted in death due to wide spread infections that invaded crucial organs of the body.

According to Dr. Cass Ingram, “Cancer begins in the mouth.” Healthy gums and teeth are systemic guardians. Infected, they are liabilities that can heavily burden, poison, and paralyze the entire immune system. Even a minor imbalance can lead to systemic illness.

How Is Gingivitis Treated?

Most cases of gingivitis, unless they have reached advanced stages, are easily treated and turned around.

If bacterial infections are significant enough, antibiotics are prescribed that generally will take care of the initial problem. The next step is usually a professional exam and cleaning by a dentist. He or she can remove plaque that has turned into tartar, and allow most patients to be disease free from that point on, providing they practice basic oral care techniques designed to prevent the return of gingivitis and bleeding gums. Sometimes “scaling” is required, which usually takes place over several visits, and is a method of manually removing tartar below the gum line. This can be painful and cause the gums to bleed even more during the procedure, but in the long run it will improve the health of teeth and gums.

Besides proper brushing and flossing techniques, be sure to rinse your mouth after every meal with purified water, even if you are not able to brush. Other natural suggestions that may help preserve your oral health and avoid unhealthy, bleeding gums include:

  • Cranberries – This amazing fruit has many healthful uses, but one of them appears to be the ability to keep bacteria from adhering to teeth and gums. Be sure to use either cranberry supplement tablets, or a cranberry juice that does not have any added sugar. Extra sugar kind of defeats the purpose when it comes to tooth and gum health.
  • Grapefruit seed extract – This has proven antibiotic properties that can help prevent bacterial infections in the oral cavity. After brushing rinse mouth using 1 to 5 drops of grapefruit seed extract in 1 cup purified water. Or add 1 to 5 drops to oral irrigation device reservoir.
  • Wild Mediterranean Oregano Oil – Place one drop of wild Mediterranean oregano oil such as Oregatrex in two ounces of warm purified water and then swish in the mouth for 15-20 seconds two times daily.
  • Oil Pulling – Many people swear by oil pulling which is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy. Place one tablespoon of oil (unrefined coconut, sesame, sunflower) in your mouth and swish it all around and between your teeth for 20-30 minutes. Spit all the oil out and rinse out your mouth with purified water. Do not swallow the oil. When used religiously, the oil can dissolve plaque and even tartar. Many people report that this is also an effective way to get whiter teeth.
  • Enzymes Enzymes hydrolyze (break down) food debris in the mouth, thereby removing the nutrients that serve to support the “bad” bacteria. Another way enzymes help is by preventing bacteria from attaching to the surface of your teeth. When bacteria are not attached to teeth, they are easily washed away by the saliva, thereby unable to destroy the teeth, the gum line, or other structures.
  • Colloidal Silver – A good colloidal silver can be used as a mouthwash to help prevent the buildup of plaque which leads to cavities and gum disease.  Colloidal silver is an extremely powerful pathogen destroyer. I personally use and suggest ACS200 Extra Strength.  ACS200 Extra Strength is the most carefully researched and scientifically tested medical grade cellular silver formula available today.
  • Tongue Brushing – Always brush your tongue as part of your daily oral hygiene. Statistics say that around 70% of the bacteria in the mouth resides on the rear area of the tongue. These microorganisms contribute to gum disease and tooth decay, and are also the main cause for bad breath.
  • Oral Irrigation – Place 1-2 drops of Oregasil Wild Mediterranean Oregano Oil in your irrigation device with filtered water. Use irrigation device per instructions. Use irrigation after brushing your teach with a non-toxic toothpaste or tooth formula.
  • Healthy Diet – The most important action you can take to maintain oral health is to eat a healthy diet.  Avoid all artificial additives (flavors, colors, preservatives), GMOs, pasteurized dairy, and refined sugars. Do not consume foods laden with herbicides and preservatives (especially the “dirty dozen”) or animal protein (meat or dairy) from factory raised animals or farm raised fish. The healthiest diet consists of whole unadulterated foods (real food), 80% of which are raw, organic vegetables and fruits (and eat more vegetables than fruit).
  • Improve Your Gut Health – Whatever infection is in your mouth, is most likely in your intestines. Detoxify and repair the intestines with intestinal cleansing. Add an effective probiotic to your daily routine.
  • Vitamin CVitamin C is an excellent antioxidant that can protect the gums and other tissues of the mouth from the destructive effects of free radicals.


DIY Homemade Natural Tooth Formula for Gum Issues

  • Equal parts of unrefined coconut oil and baking soda
  • Add essential oil to taste
  • Add stevia (if desired) to taste

For 6 tablespoons of oil to 6 tablespoons of baking soda, add 10-15 drops of essential oil. Try peppermint, eucalyptus, cinnamon, clove, lemon, orange, rosemary or any others or any combination that sound good to you. Each essential oil provides more than taste; each adds its own benefit.  Add drops of one, or experiment with combinations. Be sure to buy your essential oils from a reputable source and be sure you are getting the right genus species. Many oils come from different species and contain different properties.

In conclusion, when left unattended, unhealthy gums that tend to bleed can lead to much more serious health consequences. Proactive dental care on a daily basis is key to the health of your gums as well as your overall health. Do you have other non-toxic suggestions for gingivitis that have proven beneficial to you? Please share below.

References & Research

Nakamoto T, McCroskey M, Mallek HM. The role of ascorbic acid in human gingivitis – a new hypothesis. J Theor Biol. 1984 May 21;108(2):163-71.

Aurer-Kozelj J, Kralj-Klobucar, et al.The effect of ascorbic acid supplementation on periodontal tissue ultrastructure in subjects with progressive periodontitis.Int J Vitam.Nutr.Res 1982:52(3);333-41.
Geerts SO, Legrand V et al.Further evidence of the association between periodontal conditions and coronary artery disease.J Periodontol. 2004 Sep;75(9):1274-80.
Genco RJ, Ho AW et al. Relationship of stress, distress and inadequate coping behaviors to periodontal disease.J Periodontol. 1999 Jul;70(7):711-23.
Giannopoulou C, Cappuyns I et al. Effect of smoking on gingival crevicular fluid cytokine profile during experimental gingivitis.J ClinPeriodontol. 2003 Nov;30(11):996-1002.
Gorbach SL. Probiotics in the third millennium. Dig Liver Dis. 2002 Sep;34(Suppl 2):S2-7.
Hansen IL, Iwamoto Y et al. Bioenergetics in clinical medicine. IX. Gingival and leucocytic deficiencies of coenzyme Q10 in patients with periodontal disease. Res CommunChemPatholPharmacol. 1976 Aug;14(4):729-38.
Elter JR, White BA, Gaynes BN, Bader JD. Relationship of clinical depression to periodontal treatment outcome. J Periodontol 2002 Apr; 73 (4):441-9.
Friedlander AH, Mahler ME. Major depressive disorder. Psycho-pathology, medical management and dental implications. J Am Dent Assoc 2001 May;132(5):629-38.
Korszun A, Ship JA. Diagnosing depression in patients with chronic facial pain. J Am Dent Assoc 1997 Dec;128(12):1680-6.
Anttila SS, Knuuttila ML, Sakki T. Depressive symptoms favor abundant growth of salivary lactobacilli. Psychosom Med 1999 Jul-Aug; 61(4):508-12.
Lieutenant Randy Reese, MSC, USNR. Depression and Dental Health. Clinical Update. Naval Postgraduate Dental School – Bethesda, Maryland. Jan.2003.
Geerts SO, Legrand V et al.Further evidence of the association between periodontal conditions and coronary artery disease.J Periodontol. 2004 Sep;75(9):1274-80.
Genco RJ, Ho AW et al. Relationship of stress, distress and inadequate coping behaviors to periodontal disease.J Periodontol. 1999 Jul;70(7):711-23.
Giannopoulou C, Cappuyns I et al. Effect of smoking on gingival crevicular fluid cytokine profile during experimental gingivitis.J ClinPeriodontol. 2003 Nov;30(11):996-1002.
Gorbach SL. Probiotics in the third millennium. Dig Liver Dis. 2002 Sep;34(Suppl 2):S2-7.
Nakamura R, Littarru GP et al. Study of CoQ10-enzymes in gingiva from patients with periodontal disease and evidence for a deficiency of coenzyme Q10. ProcNatlAcadSci U S A. 1974 Apr;71(4):1456-60.

Loretta Lanphier is a Naturopathic Practitioner (Traditional), Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Holistic Health Practitioner and Certified Clinical Herbalist as well as the CEO / Founder of Oasis Advanced Wellness in The Woodlands TX. She studies and performs extensive research in health science, natural hormone balancing, anti-aging techniques, nutrition, natural medicine, weight loss, herbal remedies, non-toxic cancer support and is actively involved in researching new natural health protocols and products.  A 17 year stage 3 colon cancer survivor, Loretta is able to relate to both-sides-of-the-health-coin as patient and practitioner when it comes to health and wellness. “My passion is counseling others about what it takes to keep the whole body healthy using natural and non-toxic methods.” Read Loretta’s health testimony Cancer: The Path to Healing. Loretta is Contributor and Editor of the worldwide E-newsletter Advanced Health & Wellness
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician of choice.






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