According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately half of all Americans have some degree of gum disease. In adults over 65, that rate jumps to 70%. There is some evidence to suggest that the bacteria that causes gum disease may cause heart disease and other health issues, though some organizations dispute this claim. It may be decades before science is able to definitively prove or disprove this link. Regardless, there is no good reason NOT to prevent gum disease – a position that has been long espoused by the homeopathic dental discipline.
Most dentists spend a great deal of time educating patients on caring for their teeth, but little or no time on gum care. Traditional dentistry frequently treats gum disease using scaling and root planing, a procedure that requires anesthetizing the mouth in order to scrape under the gums at the roots of the teeth. Because so little emphasis is placed on gum care, many patients have this done yearly or even twice a year. In some cases, a dentist may even trim the gums, a procedure that can lead to sensitivity due to exposure of part of the tooth that isn’t normally exposed.
With good gum care, these painful procedures become unnecessary for many people. Dr. Vinograd has a few strategies that he recommends to prevent gum disease. At a minimum, one should brush gums separately from teeth using a soft-bristled brush with water or homemade toothpaste and finish with dental floss to remove plaque and bacteria from areas unreachable with a toothbrush.
Gum care doesn’t have to stop with brushing and flossing, however. The bacteria that causes gum disease is anaerobic, meaning it cannot tolerate oxygen. Introducing extra oxygen into the spaces where the bacteria grows can kill many of the bacteria. Dr. Vinograd recommends an ozonator and waterpik to introduce highly oxygenated water into the spaces under the gums to kill these bacteria. There are some things to keep in mind when choosing equipment.
First, an ozonator with 1,000 mgh can treat enough water to irrigate the mouth in about 15 minutes. A less powerful machine can take much longer. Be sure to choose an ozonator with Corona discharge and use it in a well-ventilated area.
Second, choose a waterpik with an attached container. Be sure not to use the device on the middle setting, as too much power can damage gums.
Third, start using this routine now. If your gums are healthy, this will keep them that way. If they’re not, irrigating with ozonated water can reduce pockets where bacteria hide by as much as 2mm. While this seems like a miniscule amount, it could mean the difference between painful periodontal procedures and stopping gum disease at home.
Finally, all of these are not a substitute for regular visits to a dentist. A dentist can ensure that your routine is effectively removing bacteria as well as check for signs of decay.