Written by Mr. Crumbs.
My current smile cost a fortune! It cost my parents not only several thousand dollars back in high school, but it cost me many years of pain and suffering. To summarize my first three years of high school:
- Overbite? Check.
- Headgear? Check.
- Headgear fails and remove teeth to correct overbite? Check.
- Braces? Check.
- Rubber bands? Check.
- Retainer? Check.
- Dog eats retainer? Check.
I hated the dentist, the hygienist, and the orthodontist. I even hated the orthodontist’s assistants who would ask you what flavor latex gloves you preferred: strawberry or blueberry.
Dental phobia was an understatement… so much so that once my braces were removed, it took me 12 years before I’d ever go back to see anyone who looked inside mouths for a living.
To make matters worse, my lifestyle wasn’t exactly “healthy” during those college years. Hot pockets in the dorm (but definitely not Tiffany’s homemade hot pockets), greasy pizza from my favorite local spot (yet again, not our homemade pizza) and fountain cokes were a staple in my diet. Oh yeah, and I was a smoker.
So where does gum disease fit in?
After 12 years of not seeing the dentist, I developed pain in one of my rear molars. Trying to avoid the dentist at all costs, I took matters into my own hands.
I brushed… and brushed… and even tried toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. Guess what happened?
Nothing. The pain persisted. Clearly, my degree in economics didn’t offer me much in terms of dental care.
Our insurance plan offered four dentists to choose from and considering I was new to the area and had nothing to lose, I let Yelp decide who would probe my mouth. Yes, the dentist with the most stars won.
The results after my first trip to the dentist were not shocking, but definitely embarrassing. He found a total of eight cavities and “moderate” tartar buildup. But I expected that.
What I didn’t expect to hear was that I had gum disease (also known as periodontal disease). At 26 years old, the dentist measured pockets in my gums ranging from 4-6mm in depth. It didn’t take a dental degree to know this wasn’t good.
Note from Tiffany: Fellow parents can relate that while you have tons of pictures, few are NOT of the kids. Even fewer are close-ups of our teeth. Pardon the other cute faces as I dug up some of the best cheeses Mr. Crumbs has had to offer since his original diagnoses.
What is gum disease? And how does it happen?
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research:
Our mouths are full of bacteria, which (along with mucus) and can form plaque on your teeth. If the plaque isn’t removed by brushing/flossing regularly, this plaque can turn into “tartar” and harden on your teeth. If you don’t see the dentist regularly, or brush regularly, this tartar can cause your gums to become inflamed, turning into “gingivitis” (mild gum disease).
It gets worse….
If gingivitis isn’t treated, it turns into periodontitis (gum disease), where the gums pull away from the teeth and form “pockets” below the gum line. Ultimately, if not treated, your bone and tissue break down and you could lose your teeth. (source)
Gum disease is classified into different stages – depending on how deep these pockets are around your teeth. My condition was somewhere between “warning” and “act now.” Unlike the spider bite post, I’ll spare you the ugly picture here, but if you research, you can see examples of the stages of gum disease. You would find me somewhere between mild and moderate. Fortunately, there was no bone loss and it was likely I’d keep my teeth. Whew!
As it turns out, poor diet and smoking can be a major cause of gum disease, and both of these were a big part of my life for several years. Diabetes, stress and illness, among other things, can cause gum disease as well.
The dentist, made it clear that healing gum disease wasn’t an option, that it can only be managed.
Which admittedly, I kinda freaked out right then.
Three Simple Steps to Healing Gum Disease Naturally
For starters, the dentist scheduled me for a “scaling and root planing” procedure. For the non-dental guru’s, this is when they scrape all the tartar and plaque off of your teeth. And not just the parts you can see.
They scrape from underneath your gum-line and smooth out the root surface. This is to help your gum tighten back up and re-attach to your teeth. It’s painful, and most offices will only work portions of the mouth at a time since the entire area has to be numbed.
Unfortunately, there’s no way around this procedure. A standard toothbrush cannot get underneath the gum line and only a dental professional has the tools and knowledge necessary to properly do this procedure.
Once this not-fun appointment was over, I committed to flossing at least once a day, but usually twice.
Then my wife bought me a toothbrush similar to this one and I committed to brushing twice a day.
These last two steps are so simple, and we’re taught to do both from a very young age. Yet we often ignore them because we’re lazy or busy or tired… and don’t think twice because there aren’t any immediate consequences.
As a precaution, I also stopped using mouthwash. I had heard conflicting reports about it killing the good bacteria in mouths, along with the bad, making it a possible cause for hygiene problems. Most mouthwashes also have fluoride, and we’ve eliminated that from our home as well.
Did it Really Work?
One year later, after the dental visit and recommitting to brushing and flossing twice daily, my gums were healing and pocket depths had been reduced from 4-6mm to only 2-4mm.
Two years later, pocket depth was in the 1-4mm range with fewer 4mm’s than before. We had also switched to this clay-based toothpaste that didn’t have fluoride, and eventually started making our own homemade toothpaste. It was definitely taking time, but we were making progress!
Just a few weeks ago marked three years after that first initial deep cleaning visit. The hygienist measured my pockets and they were ALL in the 1-3mm range.
According to the dental professionals, this is considered a complete recovery from gum disease. She was amazed, and the dentist himself was shocked.
So, the moral of the story? What you eat and the lifestyle you live DOES affect your health.
- Eat good food.
- Brush and floss your teeth.
- Don’t avoid the dentist for 12 years.
If you have dental phobia, don’t be like me and avoid them until you’re in physical pain. Finally, realize that while it takes time and good habits to help reverse this disease, it is possible to cure gum disease on your own! Don’t give up!
More Ways to Heal & Care for Your Body Naturally, at Home
- Reset high blood pressure with a 10 day water fast
- Remove a Mole with Apple Cider Vinegar
- How to Heal a Spider Bite with a Potato
- Homemade face lotion bar
- Homemade clay-based toothpaste (just like Earthpaste)
- Homemade Tinted Moisturizer
- DIY Homemade Facial Cleanser
- Heal acne naturally
- Homemade Powdered Foundation
- Homemade shampoo bar
- Homemade liquid herbal shampoo
- Homemade lip balm and lip scrub
- Secret to healthy teeth & gums