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Can You Treat Gum Disease Without a Dentist?

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A man suffering from gum pain holds his right cheek with his right hand.

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection which causes inflammation of gums around the base of teeth that can damage the soft tissue and bone levels.. There are some at-home treatment methods we’ll discuss below, but you should still perform these gum disease treatments under the advice and direction of your dentist.

One significant reason that most dentists agree that you should have a dental exam and cleaning at least twice annually is because a condition like gum disease can often go undetected in its early stages. And once the damage from the disease progresses, it can become more challenging to treat, especially using at-home remedies.

Understanding Gum Disease

Gum disease originates from plaque accumulation, which contains bacteria that can inflame and infect the gumline. If not addressed early, periodontal disease can progress, creating pockets between the teeth and gums that become irritated, inflamed, and often infected.

This infection can break down the bone and gum tissue that holds teeth in place, potentially leading to tooth loss. Symptoms can include

  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Loose or sensitive teeth
  • Discomfort when chewing

Treating Gum Disease Without a Dentist

It’s vital to understand that while at-home care can relieve minor cases of gum disease, it’s not a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Dental visits are essential to monitor and maintain your long-term oral and overall health. Your dentist will provide professional recommendations to use at home in a correct manner that will complement the in-office treatment therapies to get you and your tissues back to health.

Proper Oral Hygiene Practices

The most effective way to prevent and manage gum disease is by seeing your oral health care providers (dentist and dental hygienist) for a thorough cleaning and dental examination twice a year in addition to diligent homecare and oral hygiene practices:

  • Brushing twice daily: Use a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste. Aim for 2 minutes of brushing each time, and be gentle around the gumline to avoid further irritation.
  • Flossing: This is crucial for removing plaque from areas your toothbrush can’t reach, and it’s especially important for gum health.
  • Mouthwash: An antibacterial mouthwash can help kill bacteria and reduce plaque, contributing to better gum health. But it’s important to note that mouthwash—even an antibacterial one—shouldn’t replace diligent brushing and flossing.
  • Xylitol: Xylitol is a preservative as well as a sweetening agent that everyone should start using… Though it is sweet it does not decay teeth. Xylitol improves oral health as it keeps the saliva flowing to counteract against the bacteria that causes periodontal issues and decay. 

Natural Remedies & Home Care Tips

There are various natural remedies and home care tips that people use to alleviate symptoms associated with gum disease:

  • Oil Pulling: Swishing oil, usually coconut or sesame, in the mouth for around 20 to 30 minutes shows some assistance in improving oral health by getting rid of harmful bacteria.
  • Saltwater rinses: Salt has antibacterial properties and can help reduce inflammation. Mixing a warm saltwater solution and rinsing with it several times a day could be soothing and beneficial for gum disease. Long-term use of a saltwater rinse isn’t typically recommended because of its potential effect on tooth enamel.
  • Turmeric gel: This spice known for its anti-inflammatory properties has been turned into a gel for gum application in some home remedy products.

Perio Protect

Perio Protect is an approved, non-invasive gum disease treatment that you can use at home, but it still requires a visit to your dentist. You’ll typically need an oral exam to ensure that Perio Protect is the right treatment avenue for your situation. 

After examining your mouth, your dentist can then provide you with custom-designed trays and an individualized treatment plan. These trays are designed to deliver medication that can reach below the gumline where your toothbrush and floss can’t reach.

Benefits & Limitations of Self-Treatment

The convenience and lower costs of self-treatment appeal to many, and for minor cases, at-home practices can provide the necessary relief. However, self-treating also involves certain risks. People might delay seeking professional help, allowing the disease to progress. Incorrect use of at-home treatments could also aggravate the condition or cause secondary oral health problems.

So, this isn’t to say you can’t treat some gum disease at home, but it’s important to consult your dentist to make sure you’re on the right track to elevating your smile and keeping those gums healthy.

Potential Complications of Untreated Gum Disease

If left untreated, gum disease can lead to various complications, including:

  • Receding gums: Gums that pull away from the teeth, which can make the teeth look longer.
  • Bone damage: As gum disease destroys the bones supporting the teeth, they may become loose or fall out.
  • Systemic health links: Emerging research suggests a link between gum disease and other health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Prevention & Maintenance

Prevention is always better than cure, and this is particularly true for gum disease. Regular dental check-ups allow for early detection and treatment of gum disease before it progresses. Dentists can also provide personalized advice on improving your oral health, such as tailored oral hygiene practices and recommendations for products like toothpaste, floss, or mouthwash.

A man in an dentist's office shaking hands with his dentist

Don’t Put Off Your Next Visit to the Dentist

While advances in dental hygiene products are empowering, they do not replace the expertise of a professional. A dentist plays a critical role in diagnosing and treating gum disease, and their care is essential for managing the condition. Gum disease is a serious condition, and you shouldn’t take its management lightly.

Give us a call at Elevate Dental if you suspect you have gum disease. One of our experienced dentists can examine your mouth and develop a treatment plan that’s right for you. Let’s elevate your smile together. 

Written by Dr. Krystal Hakkaart

Dr. Krystal Hakkaart is a General Dentist practicing in the North Okanagan Valley. She graduated from the University of Sydney in 2021 with unique training in Clinical Teaching and Leadership. Krystal moved back to Vernon (where she was born and raised) to share her passion and skill with her hometown. Krystal makes every effort to stay on top of current trends and developments in dentistry. Her commitment to continuing education empowers her to better serve her patients’ distinctive wants and needs. She is passionate about utilizing innovative technology and digital integration to offer the highest level of service, and deliver exceptional quality care wrapped in a gentle touch that results in an overall comfortable experience.

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