Receding gums, or gingival recession as it is medically known, is a condition in which the gums pull back from the tooth surface and expose the roots of the teeth. This recession can also be due to the gums wearing away. Gum recession causes gaps or pockets to form between the teeth and gum line. This makes it easier for bacteria to build up. Receding gums are an indicator of poor dental health and if due care is not given, it can also lead to tooth loss.
What Causes Receding Gums?
Studies show that gum recession can be found in people with both good and poor oral hygiene, leading to the conclusion that gum recession is multifactorial, with one type being associated with anatomical factors and another type being associated with physiological or pathological factors.
Though a very common dental problem, most people do not realize they have gum recession until it is progressed well because the recession is gradual. While the first sign is usually tooth sensitivity, the most typical sign is a notch that can be felt near the gum line. One of the main causes of receding gums is periodontal disease, where bacterial gum infections destroy gum tissue and bone that hold the tooth in place.
Heredity is another common cause of gum recession. Studies have shown that nearly 30 percent of the population may be predisposed to gum disease, regardless of how well they care for their teeth. In females, hormonal changes and fluctuations especially during pregnancy, puberty, etc. can make gums vulnerable to recession.
Aggressive tooth brushing is believed to be another cause for receding gums. So is insufficient oral care. Inadequate or incorrect oral care makes it easy for plaque to build up into tartar, and cause gum recession.
Grinding or clenching of the teeth can also cause receding gums due to the excess force exerted on the teeth. Crooked teeth and a resultant misaligned bite are also believed to be causes for receding gums. Use of tobacco products is yet another cause for receding gums. So are lip or tongue piercings. This jewelry is believed to rub against the gums, cause severe irritation, and result in the wearing away of gums.
How Do You Know You Have Receding Gums?
There are quite a few symptoms associated with receding gums. The most common of these is the shift of the gum tissue which causes the yellow dentin to be exposed. The other symptoms are sensitivity, stained teeth, yellow appearance of roots, susceptibility to decay, long teeth, spaces between teeth, food packing between teeth, etc.
Are There Any Home Remedies To Rectify This?
After decades of trying out multitudes of chemicals and synthetic products for personal well-being, the human populace, it seems, is heading back to its roots. Even the scientific community are finding eye-popping evidence suggesting that herbs, medicinal plants, and the like do have the effectiveness that our forefathers said it did. And more than any other field, herbal extracts have been widely used in the dental field.
Here are a few tried and tested methods that can help cure your problem of receding gums:
1. Green Tea
Free radicals in the mouth can cause periodontal disease, and consequently, receding gums. The catechins present in green tea are antioxidants that will help fight even existing periodontal disease. These catechins will also strengthen the bond between the gums and teeth. The anti-inflammatory properties of green tea will help reduce the swelling of gums that obstruct the proper healing of the gums and oral diseases.
Consume a cup of green tea in the morning every day.
2. Aloe Vera
When it comes to receding gums, aloe vera not only reduces the inflammation of gums but also activates the cells that are important for repair of tissues. Aloe vera also has antibacterial properties that keep infections away from the mouth. The herb has anti-inflammatory as well as cell-repairing capabilities. Aloe vera also encourages soft tissue organization, leaving us with no doubt about its effectiveness in gum recession.
- Use aloe vera gel for brushing.
- Add some water to the aloe vera gel and use as mouthwash every day after brushing your teeth.
3. Oil Pulling
One of the most effective traditional methods for various dental diseases, oil pulling is believed to help reverse gum recession as well. Oils like sesame oil and virgin coconut oil play a significant role in offering a protective coating to the teeth, thus preventing plaque build-up. While sesame oil helps remove toxins from the mouth, coconut oil ensures that any kind of dental infection is taken care of. Oil pulling with coconut oil has the added benefit of ensuring that tooth decay is prevented and cavities are healed.
- Take a teaspoon of virgin coconut or sesame oil.
- Swirl and swish the oil in your mouth.
- Spit out the oil that has turned thick and milky.
- Initially, you may do oil pulling for half to one minute. Then keep on increasing the time till you can pull oil for about 15–20 minutes at a time.
- You can rinse your mouth with warm saline water after it or directly opt for a thorough brushing.
4. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil is an effective germicide that can protect the mouth from oral diseases that lead to gum recession. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it also reduces the swelling in the gums. Massaging the gums with eucalyptus oil will effectively cure and prevent gum recession and also stimulate the growth of new gum tissue. Eucalyptus oil should always be used diluted as the undiluted oil is too strong for the soft tissues of the gums.
- Add 1–2 drops of eucalyptus oil to 1–2 tablespoons of water and mix well.
- Dip your fingers or a soft-bristled toothbrush in this diluted oil.
- Massage your gums gently with this for a few minutes.
- Wash your mouth well with water.
Myrrh is a resin obtained from the myrrh tree. It has been used traditionally for treating many gum and oral diseases. Myrrh too is believed to stop gum recession as well as prevent further gum damage. Studies have shown that myrrh has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Take some myrrh and crush it to make a powder.
- Add some water to this myrrh powder and mix well to get a paste-like consistency.
- Massage the gums with this paste for a few minutes. You can also use a toothbrush.
- Rinse with water.
6. Clove Oil
Clove oil has excellent disinfectant properties and has long been used to treat many oral diseases. It has been especially effective in toothaches. The antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties of clove or clove oil are essential to fight periodontal disease or other dental issues. Moon, Sang-Eun, Hye-Young Kim, and Jeong-Dan Cha. “Synergistic effect between clove oil and its major compounds and antibiotics against oral bacteria.” Archives of oral biology 56, no. 9 (2011): 907-916.[/ref]
- Chew a clove after your meal.
- Make sure that the oil that comes out of it during chewing reaches all the corners of the mouth.
- Apply 1–2 drops of clove oil to your gums.
- Massage gently for a few minutes.
- Do this up to three times daily, especially after meals.
Note: If you are on blood clotting medication, do consult your doctor before using clove oil.
DIY Mouthwash For Receding Gums
Using a mouthwash regularly is one of the most effective ways to keep your mouth free from germs and bacteria, and consequently, stop gum recession. However, most commercial mouthwashes are harsh. It isn’t very difficult to make a highly effective mouthwash at home. If you are using any of the herbs, all you need to do is heat to bring out the properties of raw or dried herbs. With essential oil extracts or non-herbal ingredients, you only need to mix the ingredients.
Making a mouthwash involves three basic methods:
Boiling: In this method, you will need to bring water to a boil, add herbs to it, infuse for about 20 minutes, then strain the water, cool it and bottle it.
Steeping: In this method, take a bottle, add your preferred herbs into it, then pour boiling water on them. Let it steep overnight. Then strain and use. An alternate way of steeping is to steep the ingredients for an entire week while shaking them well once a day, and then strain and use it.
Mixing: This method is effective when you are using essential oils and extracts. Place your ingredients in a bottle, add water and shake well before using.
You can use your preferred herbs, essential oils, and other ingredients to suit your needs and make your own mouthwash using any of the given techniques. To get you started, here are some easy mouthwash recipes for you to try out:
Clove oil relieves toothaches. It also helps to decrease infection in the teeth due to its antiseptic, antioxidant properties.
- Take 2 cups of water
- Add 2 tsp of dried rosemary or 4 rosemary sprigs
- Add 4 cloves
- Boil or steep the solution and use daily
Tea Tree Oil Mouthwash
Tea tree oil has many medicinal properties when applied topically, including antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral action. This recipe uses myrrh and stevia. Myrrh is usually used as an antiseptic in mouthwashes, gargles, and toothpaste for prevention and treatment of gum diseases. Stevia too inhibits the growth and reproduction of harmful bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay.
- Take 1 cup of water
- Add 2 tsp of baking soda
- Add 1/2 tsp of myrrh tincture
- Add 4 drops of tea tree oil
- Add 4 drops of an essential oil of your choice (cinnamon, peppermint, lemon)
- Add 1/8 tsp stevia
- Mix all the ingredients together and use daily
Mint And Honey Mouthwash
Mint or spearmint essential oil has antifungal as well as antioxidant properties. Honey contains more complex carbohydrates than regular table sugar, so they break down more slowly and are less likely to cause problems in your mouth.
- Take 1 cup water
- Add 1 tsp raw honey
- Squeeze in 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Add 2 drops of peppermint essential oil
- Add 2 drops of spearmint essential oil
- Add 1 drop of anise seed oil
- Mix the ingredients together and use daily
Baking Soda Mouthwash
Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate works as a mechanical cleanser on the teeth and gums. It neutralizes acid production in the mouth and also works as an antiseptic to prevent infections.
- Take 1 cup of water
- Add 1 tsp of baking soda
- Add 4 drops of pure peppermint oil
- Add 4 drops of tea tree oil
- Mix ingredients together and use daily
NOTE: Always shake the mouthwash well before using. Do not use tap water. Use filtered, bottled, distilled, or mineral water instead of tap water.