Sunday, August 14, 2011

Types of Braces - Which Is Right for You?

Getting braces can be an enormous decision with many choices to make which can impact on both the cost and the end result. One of the decisions which must be made is the type of braces treatment which is best for straightening your teeth. This article discusses the most common forms of orthodontic treatment which are available for patients with crooked teeth or irregular spacing.
The type of braces that you end up choosing will largely depend on your budget and also your personal desires. Braces for children are often less costly than for adults, since children's teeth and bones are still in developing stages and can be more quickly and easily realigned. As for adults, the cost of braces is higher since orthodontic teeth straightening takes longer. Also many adults consider a more 'invisible' form of braces which further increases the cost.
Standard Metal Bracket Braces
The traditional metal braces are those which you commonly see on the teeth of children and adolescents. They are comprised of metal brackets joined by a metal wire. Whilst they are usually the cheapest option, they are also the most conspicuous and unsightly. The metal braces have been around for decades and can provide possibly the best orthodontic alignment benefit since they can be fully adjusted (as opposed to aligners such as Invisalign, which can only treat mild to moderate malocclusion and often need to be followed by traditional braces to properly align the teeth).
Metal braces can be customized with colored or ceramic brackets, which can make them more aesthetically pleasing. Ceramic brackets do cost more, however they are made to match the color of the patient's teeth and accordingly are less noticeable than the traditional metal type. Teenagers and children often opt for colored brackets and/or elastics to suit their personality and make the process a little more fun. There is a wide variety of colors available and also patients can further modify their brackets by selecting letters, images or symbols.
Teeth straightening with traditional metal braces typically take around eighteen to twenty four months on average. In more extreme cases (for example where there is overbite or underbite) the treatment can take longer.
Clear Aligner Trays
A more cosmetic alternative to having braces are plastic aligner trays such as Invisalign. These are made of clear plastic and sit over the patient's teeth. Since the trays are clear, others can hardly tell that the person is receiving orthodontic treatment. The trays are removable and need to be taken off for eating or drinking fluids other than water. The removability also allows for more thorough cleaning of the teeth than with bonded bracket braces. New aligner trays are made approximately fortnightly throughout the treatment.
A downside of the aligners is that the treatment can only deal with mild to moderate orthodontic problems and accordingly Invisalign may not be appropriate for all patients. Also, patients need to wear the aligners for a minimum amount of time throughout the day. If the program is not followed the treatment time can be prolonged, adding to the cost of braces.
Invisalign provides an alternate option to the unsightly traditional braces and can even be cheaper in some instances (since they can be provided by a dentist rather than an orthodontist). However, in most cases, Invisalign is more expensive than standard metal braces.
Lingual or Invisible Braces
Another way to hide braces is by getting them placed on the back of your teeth. This is referred to as lingual braces since they are positioned on the lingual (tongue) side of the teeth. Whilst they can be more uncomfortable for the patient, they are an ideal option for those who wish to hide their braces but are unsuitable candidates for Invisalign treatment. Lingual braces are much more expensive than traditional braces which go on the front of the teeth. This is because lingual braces require orthodontists to undertake further training to bond and adjust the brackets from the reverse side.
Many adults consider spending the extra money for lingual braces since they deem it inappropriate for them to wear braces in their adulthood, especially if they are in a professional role or are self-conscious about their image. Lingual braces for children are not as necessary since most teenagers are wearing standard bracket braces anyway.
If you are considering braces, you need to research the options which are available and which treatment is most suitable for you and your budget. Having straight and healthy teeth can not only prevent further dental costs (not being able to clean crooked teeth properly, problems with overbite and teeth grinding), it can also help boost one's self-esteem and confidence. When determining which types of braces are best for you or your child, make sure to research your options thoroughly. Talk to your dentist, family and friends who have had braces and read online reviews.
With financing, get a thorough quote upfront to ensure you don't step outside your budget. Remember that often the retainer period is charged separately. There are options available for paying for your braces. For example, your orthodontist may offer a payment plan with an initial down payment. You may also consider looking into health care insurance or joining a health savings plan such as Ameriplan. In some limited circumstances, braces treatment can be covered by Medicaid, however this would only apply to the standard braces as opposed to the more lavish options such as lingual and Invisalign.
For further information about the cost of braces please visit
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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Natural Products for Reversing Gum Disease

Flossing Products
At their healthiest, the interdental (in-between) areas of our
teeth have an angle and a deeper pocket. Floss is an important
tool to remove plaque and food debris in these areas. In
my years of practicing dental hygiene, I have noticed that
people do not floss correctly, and this causes more problems.
A result of improper flossing is a cut on the gum tissue. Or,
if people snap the floss, they cut the gum tissue and inflame
the area. So do not snap the floss.
It is important to get in between the teeth and floss in a
natural way. Products such as floss infused with natural
herbs are easily obtained in health food stores. While floss is
a treated string, if it contains natural herbs, it can assist in
directing the herbal ingredients into the space between the
teeth. Natural ingredients directed into areas that collect
food and bacteria can assist in reversing gum disease naturally.
So make sure you wrap the floss around the tooth
under the gum.
To floss properly here is what you should do: Take
approximately six to eight inches of flossing material from
the container and wrap the floss (string) around your fingers
comfortably, not too tight. Then gently wrap the tooth in a
“C” shape. Remember, you’re not just removing the food
particles, but what you are doing is breaking loose plaque
pedicles. Plaque attaches to the tooth and calcifies into tartar.
So gently move the six to eight inches of the floss under
the gum line and around the tooth. Proceed to the next tooth and apply the same procedure, remembering to wrap the
floss around the tooth in a “C” shape.
Herbal Mouthwash
The mouthwash used in my office is Bioforce Echinacea, an
herbal mouthwash. It is a natural holistic composition of
herbs that contains echinacea. Echinacea has been found to
be a good wound healer for the oral cavity. I use it during
gum cleansing. The mouth needs to be healed and soothed
from time to time, and echinacea is soothing to the gums and
can be used for prevention of soreness. It can help reduce
fungus in your oral cavity, a cause of gum disease. I tell my
patients to alternate it with water in an oral irrigator. It helps
to moisturize and soothe the gum tissue while the action of
the irrigator is at work. The mouth constantly needs to balance
the pH level. Stress and spices added to foods alter the
pH of the mouth. To stimulate the gums, put a drop of
mouthwash on your toothbrush and massage the tissue.
Other natural mouthwashes on the market are fortified with
goldenseal, another herbal extract.
CoQ10 Mouthwash
There are many natural mouthwashes, and most of them
can be found in health food stores. Some contain baking
soda or coenzyme Q10. Research shows that the use of
CoQ10 can reduce gum disease. You can buy this product in
capsules. Open a capsule and then apply the material on
top of your toothpaste, or drop the powder into a liquid to
make a rinse.
Rose Mouthwash
Red roses are more potent than any other colored rose
(white, yellow, pink, violet, etc.). Rose petals have a large
amount of vitamin C and will strengthen the gum tissue. If
you have any red roses in your garden, gather up some of the
petals that have fallen off the rose. Put the petals in a bowl
and pour boiling water over them. Once the water has turned
a deep rose color, you can use it for a mouthwash. You can
also buy rose tea and prepare the tea as a mouth rinse.
Burdock Root
Burdock root can destroy a number of microorganisms that
are responsible for gum disease. Prepare a concoction with
one teaspoon of the root simmered in a cupful of water for
fifteen minutes. Use it as a mouthwash, swishing it inside
your mouth and holding it there for a few minutes at
a time.
Natural Mouthwashes versus Commercial Brands
Sir Joseph Lister, who discovered the medical benefits of
antiseptics, invented Listerine in 1879. Listerine originally
was used as an antiseptic for cuts, scrapes, insect bites, and
dandruff. You can find these same claims on the bottle today.
In 1921 the company found another use for the product—
thus the slogan, “Remember, nothing exceeds halitosis as a
social offense. Nothing exceeds Listerine as a remedy.” Due
to the social connotation of bad breath and the smart advertising
of Listerine, product sales increased. Despite its
medicinal taste, this mouthwash still holds its own in sales.
Today the company has colored the product with dye and has artificial ingredients in its composition. Rinses with
dyes only mask breath odor. It is better to work on the real
causes and help eliminate them. The mouth is always filled
with bacteria, and when you are ill or eat certain foods the
bacteria in your mouth multiply. Listerine may kill certain
bacteria and at the same time may harm your delicate tissue
with the chemicals and dyes in the product. The mouth
should be treated like the skin on your face, and a gentle
daily herbal rinse is preferred.
One cause of halitosis is the anaerobic bacteria that lie
under the gum and also cause gum disease. Using peroxide
in an oral irrigator can help eliminate the anaerobic bacteria
under the gum. Peroxide is oxygen water, and oxygen is
needed under the gum. However, if used as a mouthwash, it
is not as effective. You must take precautions too with using
peroxide as a mouthwash; it can be very caustic to the gum
tissue over a long period of time (ten to twenty years of daily
use). Alternate peroxide with an herbal mouthwash and sea
salt, using them in a water pick.
Do toothpastes feed tooth enamel and gum tissue, or do they
just taste good to motivate patients to brush? Toothpaste
manufacturers often advertise their toothpaste as either cosmetic
or therapeutic. However, I have examined the ingredients
in most of the big commercial-brand toothpastes. My
findings were that most products contained the same ingredients
but were just packaged differently.
Sweetened oral hygiene products will become less popular
as people get the message, “Don’t eat sweets.”
Also, on the packaging for most toothpaste there is a
phone number for poison control written on the tube of
toothpaste. Few people take this message seriously. If the
companies are writing this on their tubes of toothpaste, then
they must have a real reason for doing so. I would rather use
a good-quality natural herbal toothpaste that does not need
to have this warning.
Natural Toothpaste
Echinacea Toothpaste
Used for dental health and gum care, this toothpaste not only
cleans your teeth without being abrasive, but also feeds your
gum tissue. Echinacea is extracted from several species of
plants commonly called purple coneflower. Dr. Gerhard
Madaus was the researcher who imported echinacea seeds
from North America to Europe and scientifically studied
them and found that they had immunostimulating properties.
Echinacea is known to help heal surface wounds. It also
helps heal gums that are sore and irritated.
Rosemary Toothpaste
Rosemary is found in the evergreen shrub and helps stimulate
the blood flow in gum tissue. I find it works well on people
who have receding (shrinking) gums. It activates the
metabolism of the outer layer of gum tissue and improves
cell regeneration. It is important to remember that tissue
regenerates itself, so if you have receding gums, with the
proper care and hygiene this tissue will grow back and
become healthy in time.
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Reducing Our Stress Level - PART 2

Aromatherapy uses the medicinal properties found in the
essential oils of plants to affect mood. Essential oils from
herbal plants infused into oils (olive oil, for example) are
either absorbed through the skin or inhaled. So either use
them in oil that is rubbed into the skin or breathe them in
through a diffuser.
The use of tea tree oil and lavender on top of toothpaste
can relax you and soothe your gum tissue. They have a
pleasant aroma, and are best to use before bedtime.
Chamomile is also an excellent relaxant and can be used as
an extract on top of toothpaste.
Here are some specifics about the calming oils:
• Lavender: Used for burns and small injuries. Its high
ester content can give off a calming sensation to the
• Chamomile: Calms an upset mind and can reduce
mental and physical stress.
• Mandarin: Used as an oil, it can release anxiety.
• Clary sage: Used as a sedative.
• Sandalwood: Used as a sedative.
Any of these calming essences can be placed in a bath
and used to calm and relax you. Add six drops to a warm
bath and relax for ten to twenty minutes.
Acupuncture can alleviate pain and enhance the immune
system in response to a vital flow of life energy throughout the body. It can alter the perception of pain by intervening
with neurotransmitters to the brain. Acupuncture stimulates
the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkilling
How does acupuncture work? There are twelve major
pathways, or meridians, each linked to a specific organ, and
there are over a thousand acupoints (meridian points). When
needles are placed at these points, they stimulate the flow of
chi (heart-released energy) in the body and remove blockages.
Massage Therapies
Massage therapy is effective in healing the whole body. Here
are some different kinds of massage.
Foot massage. According to practitioners, when there is an
imbalance in the body, granular crystalline substances are
deposited on the reflex point. Can this correlation occur with
the mouth? Can the blockage of the meridians in the mouth
cause calcium deposits such as tartar? No research supports
this theory at the present time, but it is possible.
In reflexology massage, pressure is placed on the meridians
that run through the feet. Reflexology reduces stress
and tension by increasing the blood flow that supplies the
body. Much the same as acupuncture, reflexology removes
the blocks that inhibit energy flow in the body.
Swedish Massage
Emotions can cause muscle tension and trap energy. This
form of massage releases energy-bound muscles, reducing tension and relaxing the mind. This form of a massage can
even put you into a sleep state.
Shiatsu Massage
This Eastern technique includes acupressure and aims to
balance the energy of the body. The acupressure points are
worked, and because of muscle relaxation, the mind also
Aromatherapy Facial Massage
In this kind of massage, the practitioner will cleanse the skin
and then follow with circular strokes with scented oils or
creams. This is useful with the jaw muscles, which are often
This energy-based therapy can help the mind, body, and
spirit in people of all ages. Qi-gong is the learning of
breathing techniques and movements that stimulate the life
force within the body. Stretching in front of the body can
enhance lung capacity. Certain exercises will help you to
recognize the chi energy within your body. Like acupuncture,
qi-gong activates the electrical currents that flow
within the pathways of the body and breaks down the
energy blocks of the body.
Qi-gong can initiate a relaxing response, which
decreases the sympathetic functions of the autonomic nervous
system and frees the mind from distraction. This then
increases blood flow to the capillaries and optimizes the
delivery of oxygen to the tissue.
You can activate the chi in your body with a therapeutic
gum massage that can also activate the immune system.
Qi-gong coordinates the left and right brain hemispheres,
promoting deeper sleep, reduced anxiety, and mental clarity.
It diminishes pain.
A simple way to get a sense of the chi in your body is to
rub your hands together. After producing heat in your hands,
place your hand over an organ. This will increase the chi. If
you are interested in increasing the chi in the area of the
mouth, then rub your hands together, producing heat, and
place your hands over the region of the gums in your mouth.
Feel your internal chi energy. See a practitioner of qi-gong
for more specific information.
Tai Chi Ch’uan
This is a martial art form that uses breathing techniques with
slow, graceful movements to improve the flow of chi, or life
force, so that the mood is calmed. It is a meditation in
motion performed by millions of Chinese people every day.
There are 24 movements in the short version, and they can
be performed in five to ten minutes. In the long version,
there are 108 movements, which takes twenty to forty minutes
to perform.
By imagining positive images, you can overcome problems
and heal yourself. Negative attitudes—including fear, pain,
and stress—also can be changed with visualization.
I use imagery when I am in a situation that can be a
painful experience. For example, when I go to the dentist to have a tooth drilled or even a root canal, instead of getting
anesthesia I simply use my imagination and remove my
mind from my body. This takes total concentration and meditation,
but when I do so I am removed from any pain. I have
surprised many practitioners with my abilities.
Hypnosis is an artificially induced state characterized by a
heightened receptivity to suggestion. This is achieved by
relaxing the body and then shifting the mind to an object
away from the body. If you reach a deep state of hypnosis,
then a posthypnotic suggestion can be carried out. The
deeper state of hypnosis can alter addictions by power of
Hypnotherapy is very effective in treating stress and
mental health problems such as fears and phobias, and even
depression. It is used in psychology to remove fears and
address problems. It can help a person stop smoking and
overcome other harmful addictions. In dentistry, hypnotherapy
is used with excellent results. It is known that hypnosis
can control the circulatory system and enhance the healing
process as well.

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Reducing Our Stress Level

There is a direct link between mental and emotional distress
and the body’s physical health. Mental and emotional
stress—brought about by things like the pain and fear
we’ve been discussing—can weaken the immune system,
allowing disease to take hold in the body. A lowered
immune system response is one of the major factors in the
onset of gum disease.
Pain and the stress that causes fear are related to the
development of gum disease. To help eliminate the cause
and onset of gum disease, and to promote its reversal, we
must work to reduce the level of stress we are experiencing
physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The following treatments and techniques will help you to
reverse gum disease naturally by reducing your stress and pain
levels that are caused by dental fears and related problems.
Yoga comes from the word “yoke”; in Sanskrit the word
means “union.” Our mouth is connected to our body, and we
must heal our mouth much the same as we would heal our
body. A positive mind is a mind that can heal.
The most widely known yoga practice is asana, often
known as hatha yoga. Asana means “ease” in Sanskrit and
includes a variety of physical postures that create changes in
the body. Although yoga emphasizes little movement, the mind is involved with each asana, and thus a mind-bodyspirit
connection is made. The connection of the breath and
the mind is a basic principle of yoga. If the mind is balanced
and focused, the breath will be focused and still.
Pranayama focuses on the regulation of the breath. The
prana exercises are taught to remove energy blockages and
prevent illnesses.
If the mind is restless and agitated, the breathing system
will become the same. Doing prana exercises induces deep
breathing and leads to relaxation of the body and its organs.
The added oxygen will help heal the organs of the body and
clear the mind. Prana has also been shown to help digestion,
improve cardiac function, and strengthen the immune system.
If the immune system is enhanced, then all conditions
of weakness in the body can be reversed.
Meditation, also used in yoga, is a state of focus that
heightens your awareness, relaxing you into peace and harmony.
Using both yoga and meditation will enhance your
immune system, thus alleviating weakness.
Children, too, can benefit from the study of yoga. They
can start at a young age to learn the patterns and postures of
yoga for preventive measures to build their immune system.
Children love movement, and they are usually more flexible
than adults.
If you wish to get a feel for hatha yoga, find a comfortable
place in a dimly lit room. You can have some incense
burning if you wish. For more information please seek out a
class or videotape. Try these three positions:
1. Child’s posture: Sit in a kneeling position on the floor
and let your arms hang by your side. Relax your arms and rest your hands by your side. The back should be
curved. In this position, the hands and body are completely
relaxed. Hold the posture for about five minutes.
2. Shoulder stand: Lie on your back with your legs
apart. Raise both legs until they are perpendicular to
the floor, lifting the hips toward the ceiling. Press the
breastbone toward the chin.
3. Half fish: Sit with your head, neck, and trunk
straight. Your legs should be pressed together and
extended in front of your body. Lean back and place
your elbows and forearms on the floor in line with
your body and legs. Arch your back, expanding your
chest and stretching your neck backward until you
can place the crown of your head on the floor. Now
breathe evenly for twenty seconds.
When you exercise regularly, you begin to improve the condition
of your heart and lungs. Exercise releases toxins from
your body and improves your stamina. It increases your
blood circulation and your joint mobility. It also alleviates
premenstrual stress or stress experienced during menopause.
It strengthens your bones by increasing their mineral content;
therefore, it helps in reducing osteoporosis and
enhances the bone level in your mouth. The bone in your
mouth surrounds the roots of your teeth, giving the teeth
support. So if you exercise regularly, you will reduce gum
disease and increase the circulation that is needed for
healthy gum tissue.
Here are some suggestions for ways in which to exercise.
Play golf, which enhances the cardiovascular system. Tennis
generates good muscular action and circulation. Walking is
less jarring to the joints than jogging or running and also helps
the cardiovascular system and circulation. Swimming will
enhance the mobility of your joints and increase your circulation
and cardiovascular system. Getting twenty to thirty minutes
of aerobic exercise three to five times a week can be
beneficial to your health and enhance your immune system.
Exercise is also a natural antidepressant. Physiological
changes in the body and brain that result from exercise can
elevate your mental state. When you exercise, you increase
your body’s temperature by two or three degrees, which is
relaxing. Endorphins also are released, which enhance the
immune system and give us a sense of elation and wellbeing.
Many runners have described a feeling of being
“high” when running or jogging.
Still, motivating yourself to exercise regularly may be as
difficult as motivating yourself to do a daily oral hygiene
regimen. It might be more difficult if you feel that you are
lacking energy. If you do exercise that you enjoy, you may
be more motivated than if you hate the exercise you plan for
yourself. So whichever activity you choose, enjoy it. Using
your energy in a positive way will make you feel better and
look younger.
Dance Movements for Stress Reduction
Dance and movement are recognized by many as a stimulant
for the immune system. It is a therapy used to release stress
and reduce pain. Personality is connected to movement, and the release of personal expression through dance therapy
also helps reduce depression. I advise dancing in group sessions,
starting with warm-up sessions.
Rhythm, which one develops through dance, does play a
factor in the treatment of the mouth. You can massage with
your brush, floss, and other oral products using a fashionable
dance rhythm. The tedium of oral care will be reduced,
and you will send healing energy through this rhythm from
your hands to your mouth.
Machines and instruments are used in biofeedback to help
you learn to self-regulate your body functions, and to control
your blood pressure and heart rate. Electronic beeps and
flashes provide information about the body’s changes, and
by responding to these signals, you can learn (with the help
of a practitioner) how to regulate your body’s response. If
you have anxiety about going to the dentist, you may learn
to regulate your blood pressure and heart rate with biofeedback
procedures, which will be very helpful in controlling
anxiety about dental treatment. Stress and pain relief can be
altered with biofeedback methods.
Different kinds of biofeedback methods are available.
There are devices that show you changes in your skin temperature.
A GSR device measures the skin’s electrical conductivity
by the amount of sweat produced under stress.
EMGs are visual signals that indicate muscle tension. If you
are in a state of relaxation, your sweat glands will have low
activity, and high levels of alpha waves in the brain will indicate
a slow, even heart rate. You can begin to train yourself to regulate your body’s organs through the use of such
Many people who have undergone biofeedback therapy
have achieved control over fears, stress, and pain.
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Children and Pain in Dentistry

Luckily, there is usually little pain experienced by children
who have gum problems. The child first realizes something
is wrong when he or she sees blood on his or her toothbrush,
which is usually due to sore tissue. Still, here are the conditions
that can cause pain.
This is a localized infection of the gums or a decayed tooth.
The pressure of the pus and diseased gum may cause discomfort
and some pain in children as much as in adults.
Remedies: Seek professional advice. Use of a tea bag
can be helpful—after steeping a tea bag in hot water, let it
cool and place it on the abscess. The tannic acid will draw
the infection out. A rinse with warm sea salt water can also
be helpful. Have your child swish the rinse around his or her
mouth. If the problem persists after a dental cleaning, then seek the advice of a physician. Make sure your child develops
good oral hygiene habits.
Tooth Decay
From treating many children in dental hygiene, I’ve
noticed that children seem to experience less pain with
tooth decay than adults do. I have worked on many children
with rampant decay, and their parents, as well as the children
themselves, were unaware of any problems. Most
decay is noticed only when the teeth are darkened with
severe amounts of decay.
Remedies: For temporary relief, apply clove oil. Then
make an appointment to have the decay removed and a filling
or proper tooth restoration applied.
The earliest and most common pain in a child is related to
teething, when the baby tooth pushes up and breaks through
the gum. The symptoms of teething are excessive saliva in
the mouth, sometimes a fever, crankiness, and sleeplessness.
In response to teething pain, a child will grab almost
anything and start chewing on it. As the pressure of the new
teeth erupting causes discomfort, the counterpressure created
by using objects or fingers will alleviate some of the
Teething occurs in all children, and the immune system
sometimes becomes involved during the creation of excess
mucus in children. The child may run a temperature. Do not
become alarmed! Fever is a common side effect of teething
in a child.
Remedies: Pressure from the eruption of a tooth will
cause the fibers in the gums to give a painful sensation to
your child. Natural remedies can help reduce the pain. Clove
oil is the most effective natural numbing solution. Spread it
over the area that is causing discomfort with a cotton swab.
Use teething rings that have been kept cold in the refrigerator.
The cold on the gums and the clove oil will aid in numbing
the painful gums. If a fever persists, seek a physician’s
Eliminating Fear
What keeps people away from dental treatment? It is usually
fear and anxiety. An unpleasant past experience, or hearing
about negative experiences from other people, is probably a
major cause of dental disease and gum disease.
Children who have had a negative experience in a dental
office may harbor negative thoughts for a lifetime. As children
often do not understand what is happening to them in
the dental chair, they feel out of control. This lack of control
can play havoc with the mind. Negative experiences during
childhood then become magnified over time and are hard to
forget, creating an atmosphere of fear every time an adult
thinks about going to the dentist or hygienist.
If you are an adult who carries fears from childhood,
sometimes eliminating your fear can be as easy as remembering
(and perhaps discussing!) the original painful incident
from your childhood. Also, express your concerns to
your dental professional. The right dental professional will
be empathetic and understanding. And most dental offices
are equipped to reduce the pain experience. Discuss with your dentist or hygienist the various methods that might
work for you during treatment to alleviate pain, and remember
that the less pain you experience, the better it is for you
and your professional. If you tense up with fear, it becomes
more difficult for your professional to do the best job possible.
So it is in everyone’s best interests that you are less fearful
and do not have to contend with pain.
It is important to educate children in dental care. There is
a child in all of us, and if a strong foundation has been built
first, we can become healthy and fearless adults. If as a child
we were unexpectedly hurt in the dental chair—we didn’t
expect to have a needle or a drill—then as adults we remain
fearful of the dentist.
So educate your children in dental care, and explain to
them why they must fix their teeth. It is important to have
your child understand the need to see a dentist and dental
hygienist. It would be advantageous to have your child visit
the dentist with you and let him or her look at the equipment.
Ask the dentist if you can have a half-hour consultation to
make your child more comfortable in the dental chair. This
visit would be to familiarize your child with dental equipment,
and when it becomes his or her time to be a patient, he
or she will have gained knowledge. Any fear will be eliminated
or lessened.
I remember, as a child, pinching my hand to remove the
sensation of pain from the actual area being worked on. It
works! It makes your mind concentrate on a sharper pain
that you are in control of. Try it.
Also, try to eliminate fear with logic. Think of the most
traumatic pain you have ever undergone. The pain sensation
that you experienced may well have disappeared in a few minutes and was not long-lasting. Chronic pain that gnaws
at you daily can be considered stressful pain.
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Mouth Conditions That Can Cause Pain

Somatic Pain Disorder
This condition stems from local (oral/periodontal) tissue
injury, and shows up as inflammation and local tooth problems,
such as decay.
For example, you go to the hygienist for a thorough
cleaning and now your gums feel raw and swollen. After
leaving the office, you are having a sensation of pain. (Does
this sensation make you feel that you want to return for
another cleaning? No!)

My patients don’t experience this pain sensation,
because after a gum treatment I massage the tissue therapeutically
with herbal toothpaste and clove oil or oreganol
on a toothbrush. During a cleansing treatment, I dip the
instrument into the oil to lubricate and numb the tissue.
Most patients feel soothed and nurtured after a treatment,
and end up asking to come back.
Remedies: Have clove oil on hand for emergencies. If
you feel pain on a particular tooth, dab a Q-tip into the clove
oil and swab the oil onto the tooth surface. This will remove
the painful sensation. However, if you see a dentist or
hygienist regularly, a painful situation like this will occur
much less frequently. Prevention can keep painful situations
from occurring.
Another cause of mouth pain may be an abscess, which is a
localized infection of either the gums or a decayed tooth. A
raw or abscessed gum can cause pain, and may even feel like
a toothache or a nerve dying. The painful sensation will
probably come on when you are drinking or eating cold
food. Look in the mirror and see if you can locate the source
of the pain.
Remedies: If your gum is raw and swollen and you see
a bump on the gum that might be an abscess, rinse with
warm sea salt water to draw the infection out. To reduce
swelling, steep a tea bag in boiling water. Remove the tea
bag from the water, let it cool, and place the bag on the
source of the pain. The tannic acid in the tea bag will reduce
the swelling and calm the irritation until you see your dentist
or hygienist.
This condition is due to the impaction, or crowding, of
wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are found in the back of your
mouth. Because of crowding, the area around the wisdom
tooth may be hard to reach for cleaning purposes. The gum
that surrounds this area then can get swollen and loose.
Remedies: Use an oral irrigator with peroxide (see
chapter 5). Also, seek the advice of a dentist or an hygienist.
To eliminate swelling, pour boiling water over a tea
bag. Remove the bag from the water and let it cool. Then
place the tea bag over the wisdom teeth that are causing
you problems and bite down. You may get a sense of relief.
Trigeminal Neuralgia
There are only three to five cases per year per 100,000 people
with this condition, and it is more common in those over
fifty years of age. In this condition, you may think that you
have a toothache when the pain isn’t really related to a
tooth. Still, to rule out the possibility that it’s not a
toothache, seek professional dental advice. A symptom of
this condition may be that you have pain-free intervals—the
pain comes and goes without reason. If a dental condition
or a tooth problem causes your pain, you will have a continuous
aching, throbbing pain. Any stimulation worsens
the pain. With trigeminal neuralgia, you feel only intermittent,
brief, electric shock–like pain. A light touch will trigger
the pain, which is part of trigeminal neuralgia. This
condition is frequently misdiagnosed by dentists.
Remedies: Seek professional advice and have your dentist
or physician diagnose the problem. You should be treated
for this condition professionally.
Phantom Pain (Atypical Facial Pain)
Phantom pain is a persistent pain in the teeth, face, or alveolar
process (bone) following a root canal therapy, an apicoectomy
(surgical removal of an infection or cyst), or a
tooth extraction. It may be a deep, dull ache with periodic
sharp attacks. Three to six percent of those who undergo a
root canal therapy have a phantom pain sensation in the
area of the treated tooth. Phantom pain also is often experienced
in people who have lost limbs; they can still “feel”
the presence of the limb and pain that does not diminish in
that area.
Remedies: Check with your dentist, who will try to
determine the source of your pain and proceed with the professional
treatment of choice.
Burning Mouth
Burning mouth is an intraoral chronic pain disorder that is
usually without associated mucosal or oral signs. You may
feel a burning sensation on your tongue, and stinging and
itching in the front and back regions of your tongue. It can
be caused by a geographic tongue (inflammation sporadically
mapped out on your tongue) or an infection such as
candidiasis. Or you may have a contact allergy from wearing
Other causes may be a nervous condition, such as the biting
of one’s tongue or other tongue habits, or an allergic
reaction to medications being taken. A person can have
burning of the tongue or surrounding areas if he or she is
anemic; with this condition there is a reddened area on the
tongue called glossitis. This condition is either continuous
or intermittent, and typically worsens as the day progresses.
It is relieved temporarily by eating and drinking. It is estimated
that 8 percent of males and 6 percent of females suffer
from this condition.
Remedies: Seek a physician’s advice rather than that of a
Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)
Still another painful condition is related to temporomandibular
disorder. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is
the joint by the ear that allows the mouth to open and close.
This joint can become arthritic, much as any joint in your
body can, and can cause you pain.
Usually people complain about arthritis in their knees or
in the joints of their fingers. But every joint is composed of
synovial fluid and ligament attachment, and thus is subject
to arthritis. A dental professional may be called on to locate
and manage the complaints that occur around the TMJ.
Remedies: The treatment of choice by a dentist probably
would be a night guard. This will not cure the condition,
however, if the joint itself is arthritic, only ease the
To relieve pain immediately, use warm compresses on
the outside of the joint.
Mouth Ulcers
Often found in adults and teenagers, ulcers are indicative of
a run-down physical condition. These open sores in the
mouth can also occur after antibiotic therapy and during
recovery from influenza. When the body’s immune system
experiences much stress, the normal ecology of the mouth is
compromised. Ulcers can be very painful, especially when
one is eating and drinking.
Remedies: A mouthwash made with red sage leaves or
echinacea by Bioforce will usually reduce the pain.
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Handling Pain and Fear

Pain can be considered a major cause of dental problems and
gum disease. If you are afraid of pain and associate visits to
the dentist or hygienist with a painful experience, you probably
will not be visiting your dentist office often enough.
Missing your regular check-ups will lead you to neglect your
teeth and gums, and can result in the onset of gum disease.
Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience.
It is caused by the stimulation of sensory nerve endings,
which the mouth has an abundance of. Every person perceives
pain differently. Social, cultural, and ethnic differences
affect how different people react to pain. Pain can be
an intense experience, and even if there is no actual physical
reason for it, the person feels the pain as if it is real.
Is pain always present when there is gum disease? No,
not always. Pain is not present when your gums are inflamed, bleeding, or swollen. However, any problems that
cause pain in the mouth may also contribute to gum disease.
For example, disease can become a secondary problem if
you have pericoronitis (swollen gums around the wisdom
teeth). The tissue can become inflamed as a result of the
crowding, and bacteria lodged in one area can spread to
adjacent tissue. An abscess—an area in the gum filled with
pus—may be painful. If your mouth is sore because of temporomandibular
disorder, then the surrounding tissue can
also be affected, leaving you with raw, swollen gums.
Neuralgia in the facial area may leave you uncomfortable
and may induce you not to practice proper dental hygiene
home care. A burning tongue may leave you irritated and
discourage you from nurturing your oral cavity, resulting in
gum disease. So any discomfort in your mouth may lead
you to gum disease.
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Stress-Related Habits That Worsen Gum Disease - part 2

Vitamin Deficiency
Stressful behavior patterns can lead to vitamin deficiencies.
When people are under stress, sucrose ingestion may lead to
hypoglycemia, a condition directly related to stress. The
National Institutes of Health reports that 87 percent of the
population suffer from faulty carbohydrate metabolism.
Eating improperly, which usually occurs when a person is
under stress, can lead to lack of vitamins.
Remedies: Take vitamin supplements at times of stress.
Magnesium and zinc, along with a multiple vitamin, can be
very helpful.
If you find that you are not eating properly and are in
need of vitamins, take supplemental vitamins in pill form.
Vitamin supplements are easy to buy, and it is important
when you are going through stressful times to supplement
the body’s needs. Vitamins build strong bone that supports
your teeth and helps to generate gum tissue. Stress will
throw the body off balance, and these vitamins are very
important to feed both the teeth and gums. Also, exercising
will help with circulation and help prevent the vitamin
depletion in your body.
Nail Biting/Thumb Sucking
Thumb sucking and nail biting are habits related to stress. You
may laugh, but many adults do habitually suck their thumbs. These oral habits, which arise from stress, can cause gum disease.
The nails beds are loaded with bacteria and when placed
in the mouth can contribute to an environment rich in bacteria,
thus irritating the gum tissue. Think about it: You touch
things all day that are laden with bacteria and then you place
your fingers in your mouth, chewing the nail off and leaving
the bacteria to invade the soft tissues of your mouth. These
stress-related habits can contribute to gum infection and may
even contribute to gum abscesses. If you have a cut on your
gum and then bite your nails, the bacteria that are introduced
can lodge in the cut, causing an abscess.
Remedies: Have a professional manicure weekly. The
cost and effort spent to beautify your nails will help you to
eliminate the bad habit of putting your hands in your
A beautiful manicure will cost you money but it will
eliminate the bacteria from spreading into your mouth due
to nail biting, and may even help reduce your stress level.
Lemon Sucking
Sucking lemons is another habit caused by stress. Do you
know how acidic lemons are? Acid is not a friend to the soft
tissues of your mouth. It can dry and irritate the soft tissue.
I have heard about people sucking on lemons as a relaxant!
People do different, quirky things when they are stressed.
Most of the time, these things are deleterious to the mouth
and other parts of the body.
Remedies: Herbal candies can be a good replacement.
The need to have an oral fixation is better replaced with
herbal components. Habitual lemon sucking can cause much damage to the
supporting structures of your teeth. If you find that you are
sucking on lemons excessively due to stress, consciously
make an effort to stop, and intellectually understand that this
habit can damage your teeth and gums. Think of the sour
taste in your mouth. Does this really make you feel good?
Exercise your good sense and replace the acidic lemon with
some cooling fruits and vegetables. Cucumbers are very
cooling to the gum tissue, so place them on the gums
instead. Cooling fruits and vegetables will allow the gums to
heal in times of stress.
Toothbrush Abrasion and Stress
Many people use their toothbrush too harshly and take out
their frustrations by brushing too hard, causing toothbrush abrasion. This can end up ridging the enamel of your teeth.
Enamel is a veneer that can be ridged by a hard brush or
heavy-handed brushing. The ridge line that many professionals
see is close to the gum line. This ridge can become a
holding place for food and plaque to attach to. This area, if
grooved deeply, will collect bacterial plaque that can be a
cause of gum disease. If toothbrush abrasion causes you
pain and sensitivity, then you may not be working effectively
at removing the plaque and tartar from your gums.
Remedies: Use a soft brush and angle it with a massage
approach at the gum line. Stressful times lead us to beat up
on the soft tissue of the mouth, so consciously become aware
of how hard you are working your mouth. Examine your
teeth, and if any ridges are appearing on the tooth line, then
stop any harsh strokes. Nurture yourself.
Toothbrush abrasion is a common result of anger and
stress. Many people brush harshly at the gum line and cause
their gums to recede (shrink), leaving them “long in the
tooth.” Consciously massage the gums and let your hands
relax before you approach your mouth with the brush. Use
rhythm, much as you would if you were exercising your
body at the gym.
Alcohol Use
Drinking alcohol to reduce stress can lead to more stress.
Stress has to be brought to a level of awareness and dealt
with. Alcohol reduces the ability to deal with problems, thus
creating a severe problem in itself. It also causes bad gums
and diminishes saliva flow, thus drying out the gum tissue.
This dried gum tissue will become sore and loose and can be
a factor in the onset of gum disease. Remedies: If you are deeply involved in alcohol use,
seek professional or group help. Motivate yourself to act by
knowing that alcohol depletes all the vitamins in your system
and eats away at your tooth structures.
If you are stressed and are turning to alcohol, try to
problem-solve instead, and think clearly. Throw away the
alcohol and face your problems. Lead yourself into an
environment that is healthier and cleaner. Try yoga, or
another form of exercise, and breathe deeply and slowly.
Tobacco Smoking
Another stress-related habit is smoking. Smoking can
destroy your health because cigarettes contain thousands of
toxins. Smoking is immunosuppressive, and it may take over
three months to reverse the damage it causes. The use of
tobacco products puts you at a high risk of periodontal disease.
Tobacco smoking has been associated with acute
necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG), a severe form of
gingivitis. Nicotine use can reduce antibody production,
alter T-cell ratios, and reduce the mineral content in the
bones. All of these reactions to nicotine can affect your
gums. When you look at people who smoke, notice their
facial skin. Just as smoking dries the tissue of the face, leaving
the skin lined and wrinkled, it also dries out the gums.
Remedies: Try SmokeEnders or hypnosis, or just go cold
turkey. Throw away your demons. If this doesn’t work, seek
professional help. Go to your doctor and get a prescription
for the nicotine patch. If you are an habitual smoker and find
that during stressful times you smoke more, consciously
make an effort to reduce your smoking. You may think you
are getting relief from smoking, but it is actually increasing your stress level. Fight the bad habits and challenge yourself
to achieve good health by problem-solving instead.
Knowing that stress is one of the problems that can
cause illness and gum disease is very important. But just
knowing is not enough; it takes willpower and self-control
to eliminate the stressful habits. In times of excessive stress,
think of your body as a machine; do not overwork the physical
machine with bad habits and negative thoughts. Let
problem-solving lead you in the right direction. Thought
processes create energy, which can elevate or lower your
immune system. Positive problem-solving will lead to better
health and help you eliminate stresses leading to gum
disease. And, most important, throw away your tobacco. I
am not a psychologist, but I have noticed that most people
who smoke have control issues. What is in control here, the
tobacco? Are you letting the tobacco lead you to ill health?
Exercise your intelligence and logically understand your
need for this habitual life-reducing substance. Then reduce
the need to have addictions that do not promote your health.
In this chapter I focused on some of the most common bad
habits that may be the cause of gum disease. If you catch the
problems early, you will have less trouble reducing or breaking
them. Stress can be a negative energy force that enters
our life and invades our bodies. Don’t let it impact your life,
or your body, in a negative way.

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Stress-Related Habits That Worsen Gum Disease

If you find that your jaws are tight when you awake, you may
be clenching and grinding your teeth in your sleep. The
grinding and clenching of teeth is a habit called bruxism,
and it is caused by stress. Clenching is a continuous or periodic
closing of the jaw under vertical pressure. Grinding is
a rhythmic side-to-side movement or a forward-and-back
movement. The teeth are under severe pressure when you
clench and grind them. The constant moving of your teeth
back and forth while grinding will loosen the teeth.
If you grind and clench your teeth, you may find yourself
with a condition called temporomandibular joint disorder
(TMJ). The temporomandibular joint is the hinge and
socket that allow the mouth to open and close. The jaw can sometimes lock into position, limiting your mouth in opening
and closing. Or you may hear clicking sounds, indicating
that the TMJ is not working as smoothly as it should.
Grinding or clenching your teeth inhibits the correct movement
of this joint. Stretching the ligaments creates problems
for the TMJ joint and can even affect your gum
condition. It can inhibit your ability to do proper oral
hygiene and can cause pain, leading to stress in your mouth
and causing you to feel uncomfortable.
The amount of damage that you can do to your mouth
correlates directly with the duration of the grinding-andclenching
habit. Bruxism will show as wear on your teeth. If
you routinely grind your teeth in your sleep and clench daily,
then you will probably cause serious damage to your teeth.
Headaches may even be due to the grinding and clenching of
your teeth, as they place excess stress on the ligaments and
supportive tissues.
Breaking such a habit is hard because it is usually a secondary
factor to major stress. It takes awareness, and a conscious
willingness to change the behavior pattern, to stop the
bad habit.
Remedies: If you are consciously aware that you are
clenching, then use your tongue as a tool to inhibit the
process and place it between your teeth. In the evenings
before retiring, drink a glass of warm milk and relax. Do not
go over your worries for the day as you prepare for slumber:
think pleasant thoughts, especially before going into a
dream state.
If your jaws are tight and you are in pain, you might
want to try some isometric exercises. Isometric means
resistance. Cup your hands under your chin and press upward while your mouth muscles push your chin down
onto your hands. Do the same with the side of your jaw:
press your jaw to one side while you press in with your
cupped hands, one on either side of your jaw. Resistance in
this area will strengthen the ligaments and lead the TMJ
back to health. If you are getting headaches due to clenching
and grinding, this will help to eliminate the pressure
and allow the circulation of blood to the brain, thus eliminating
the headaches.
If you are grinding and clenching your teeth in your
sleep, you will have little control over the habit. A night
guard or splint can be made to enable you to keep your
teeth apart at night. If you feel that you can wear this comfortably,
make an appointment with your dental professional
to have one made. Your dentist will take an
impression, make a mold, and send the mold to a lab to
make you a customized night guard or splint. Night guards
sold in drugstores over the counter will not fit properly,
and can irritate the gum tissue. An ill-fitting night guard or
tray can be the cause of gum disease.
Cheek Biting
Chewing on the lining of your cheeks and biting your lips
may be a nervous habit. This may lead to ulcers and irritation.
Irritation of your cheeks will make it difficult for you
to effectively perform oral hygiene, thus possibly leading to
gum disease. Ulcers in your mouth can spread and irritate
the gum tissue.
Remedies: Consciously try to stop this habit. Stress can
cause us to hurt our body parts. Remind yourself of the good
that is in your life, and that you can decrease your stress
level and bad habits.
Instead of biting your cheek, place a rubber band on your
wrist. Every time you are about to bite your cheek, snap the
rubber band. After a while you will stop biting your cheek
(and also will not have to snap the rubber band that is on
your wrist!). The rubber band is more obvious, and your
conscious mind will not allow the pain that is a consequence
of this negative habit to continue.
Ice Chewing
Another bad habit caused by stress is chewing on ice. Ice
can be very destructive and cause much harm to the teeth. It
can wear down the surfaces of your teeth as well as irritate
the gums because of the excess stress you are placing on
your teeth with the ice. This all depends, of course, on the
severity of the habit.
Remedies: Awareness of the damage that chewing on ice
can do to your teeth and gums will help you to break the
habit. Consciously remember this at the times you may want to chew on ice. Remove these thoughts and replace them
with positive thoughts.
If you chew ice as a stress reliever, you might find that
you will break many of your teeth. Such knowledge works
to curb the habit. It causes you to be conscious that you can
make the enamel thin with the habit of ice chewing, which
will lead you to have sensitive teeth. And sensitive teeth
can cause you pain. Pain and sensitivity will not allow you
to enjoy good foods. If you need to release stress in this
fashion, chew sugarless gum instead.
Gum Chewing
If stress is leading you to chew gum, choose sugarless gum.
It is important to note that the chewing of gum is not always
negative; it increases the saliva flow, which cleanses the
teeth and adds moisture to gum tissue. If you constantly
chew gum and find that your jaw is sore, you may be overdoing
it. Chewing sugarless gum in moderation can be helpful,
as it can reduce stress and lubricate the mouth.
Remedies: Chew in moderation. If you think you are
relieving stress by chewing gum, then chances are you are
probably overdoing it. Too much stress on the jaw is tiring
and can cause the mouth to get irritated. Try to let go by
working out instead—going for a walk or jog, biking, or
swimming. If you find that you need an oral fix, then chew
on carrot or celery sticks. Stress is removed by healthful
foods. Do not allow yourself to enter the realm of negativity.
Gum chewing in excess can be a cause for muscle stress
in your mouth. If you chew, chew sugarless gum, and do so
in moderation. Eating Sweets
Stress can cause us to act irrationally and can lead us to want
to erase any negative feelings by eating sweets. It is known
that chocolate can compensate for romance, and it affects
the pituitary gland. What does it do to our teeth and fragile
gum tissue? Try placing sweetened chocolate and other
sweets on your skin. You will find they will irritate the skin.
They will also irritate the oral cavity. Sugar turns to acid,
and acid eats away at the soft and hard tissues of the oral
cavity. Plaque and bacteria feed off the sugar and invade the
support structures of your teeth.
Remedies: A conscious effort and a focused mind will
help you to stop eating sweets at times of duress. Replace the
belief that negative feelings are extinguished when you eat
sweets, and instead eat foods that are good for you, like fruits
such as apples, bananas, and strawberries, and vegetables
such as broccoli, spinach, and dark green lettuce. I have
recently tried to diet, and I find that when I am stressed out I
tend to eat something that gives me instant gratification such
as chocolate. I then realize I like some really good foods such
as strawberries and watermelon. I use self-control and eat
healthily and feel better. The existing balance of your energy
system in your body will help you to reduce stress.
Do not keep sweets in the house. If you thrive on chocolate
and sweets due to a high level of stress, remind yourself
of the cycle into which it can lead you: weight gain, the lack
of necessary vitamins, an acidic mouth produced by sugar
intake and poor diet, and loose gum tissue. All this will create
additional stress. Try to reduce, and not increase, your
stress level, by exercising control; you will eliminate stress
quicker. Sweet eaters are instant gratification seekers, but you can become an educated consumer. Think healthily and
exercise your body. Drink more water and eat nutritious
foods. This practice of healthy thinking will eliminate the
need for sweets.

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Using the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection to Eliminate the Effects of Stress

The mind-body-spirit connection to stress embraces the
probability that stress can contribute to illness. In a positive
state, the mind promotes better immune functioning for the
body. Our will, or spirit, contributes to our well-being.
Depression can lead to ill health and bad habits that can lead
to disease. If your spirit is low, it can lower the immune system
and bring on disease. Stress comes from lack of hope
and leads to negative or ill health. Ill health can cause more
stress. If you are under stress, use your mind to control your
experience of stress.
While negative thoughts cause a lowering of the
immune system and disease, positive thoughts can enhance
the immune system. It is the spirit within us that needs to
guide us positively. Use the mind-body-spirit connection to
transform stress into positive energy. Life is a series of lessons
to be learned, and once they are learned, their adversity
can disappear. The mind-body-spirit connection can
control our level of stress. If a problem exists and you do
your daily cleaning routine, emphasizing your health first,
it will help you put stress into proper perspective. Feelings of hope and renewed optimism can promote better
immune function for the body. Hope and optimism reduce
fear and allow the body to move in a positive direction.
Stress and its connection to oral health are not addressed
in textbooks or scientifically recorded. I have observed that
many of my patients, however, when tired and stressed out,
seem to have puffy and swollen gum tissue. After changing
jobs or returning from vacations, these same patients suddenly
have remarkably healthy tissue. Stress-related problems
have been studied in dentistry, and the findings in many
countries are that when there is less stress, there are fewer
problems with teeth and gums.

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Why Stress Is the Culprit

Stress is a result of an endocrine and hormonal imbalance. It
affects the normal balance of your body and can lead to gum
disease. The mouth mirrors many conditions of the body,
especially those caused by stress. Headaches, which are usually
stress-related, can restrict blood flow to the head. As a
result of the loss of blood flow, you can get a headache.
Chronic stress can lead to gum disease by reducing the
strength of the immune system, which leads to growth of
bacterial plaque. This bacterial plaque can invade the gum
structure and lead to loose, inflamed tissue, as well as possible
bone loss.
If you are stressed out and not paying much attention to
your body’s needs, you may be the victim of a poor diet, an
important factor in gum disease. Most people who are under
the influence of stress eat improperly. Your diet may consist of
quick bites of food, sugar, or alcohol, and reduced intake of
fluids. If you eat a high-sugar diet, you are certain to have a
more acidic saliva, and probably will be a candidate for bacterial
plaque. The bacterial plaque will irritate your gums and
be a cause of gum disease. Alcohol, as discussed in the previous
chapter, has a high sugar content and also diminishes the
saliva flow, which is a cause of gum disease. If you drink less
water and take in less fluid because of stress, you may notice
your saliva thickening. This can cause plaque to attach quickly
to the tooth’s structure. Plaque feasts on the fragile gum tissue
and eats away at the bone supporting the teeth.

Stress can also cause bad physical habits that can wreak
havoc on your mouth. Have you ever been in the supermarket,
waiting on line for what seems an eternity, and noticed
that the person in front of you is overusing his jaws? You can
tell by the facial musculature. Grinding and clenching of
your teeth can loosen your teeth, and the pressure it produces
can irritate the supporting gum tissue. In children, a
loose baby tooth can cause the gum to get loose and swollen.
Well, when you grind and clench your adult teeth, you are
loosening them, and this can have the same effect as a loose
baby tooth: it can cause loose, irritated gum tissue, which
can result in gum disease.
Colds are also a direct effect of a weakened immune system.
With colds and allergies affecting our immune system,
the mouth can become a secondary target, with the resulting
effect of gum disease.
However, positive stress can help our health and reduce
anxiety. Stressful situations can lead us to challenge our
spirit and sometimes leave us healthier. It’s how we react to
stress that is important. If you handle your problems well,
you may achieve a healthier immune system.
All in all, however, I would suggest that you try to minimize
the stress in your life, for it can play havoc not only on
your gums but on other organs such as your heart. Although
stress may not be considered a disease, it can be the aggravating
factor for such conditions as allergies, arthritis,
asthma, cancer, colitis, ulcers, heart disease, and various
nerve conditions. These conditions can all have an effect on
your gum tissue.
As mentioned earlier, stress may lead you away from
good daily gum and tooth care. You may be preoccupied with your problems and so neglect your body. However, you
can start to release your frustrations through positive
manipulation of the gum tissue. Think about how good a
gum massage feels. It can relax you. If you spend a minute
or two in the morning with gum massage, you will relax
your mouth and heal the gum tissue.
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Medications and Their Effects on Gum Disease

You may be unaware that certain medications can cause
changes to your gum tissue and promote gum disease. The
most common of these are antiseizure medications taken
for epilepsy. Dilantin, for example, is a drug that can create
gingival overgrowth, which has the appearance of
thickened tissue and loosened gums. Antidepressants such
as Paxil, Elavil, and Zoloft create gingival overgrowth and
swellings throughout the mouth. Studies have shown that
these changes take place on a cellular level and create a
more dense tissue. Another drug that causes overgrowth to
gum tissue is cyclosporine, used for immunosuppression in
people who have had transplants and people with multiple
If you have overgrowth of tissue and are taking antiseizure
medication such as Dilantin, or are taking other
drugs that may be causing this condition, it is important that you have frequent oral cleanings and that you establish a
good oral hygiene regimen (see chapter 6). The thickened,
swollen tissues become a greater holding site for plaque and
Overgrowth of gum tissue and candidiasis can also be
caused by prolonged use of antibiotics, which reduce the
body’s defense mechanisms by stimulating immunosuppressants.
This condition is characterized by a thick white
mucous covering on the tongue. Patients with this condition
may have more plaque because they have pain from the condition
and therefore cannot brush their teeth easily.
It is important that you try to control the problem first.
Once this is accomplished, it will be easier to clean your
mouth and rid it of plaque. Use natural rinses such as Bioforce echinacea mouthwash and other herbal rinses
found in health food stores. There are rinses that can be prescribed
by your dentist or medical doctor to help you with
prolonged antibiotic therapy condition.
Lastly, many drugs can create xerostomia (dry mouth),
• Anticholinergics, such as atropine, scopolamine, and
• Antihypertensives, such as guanethidine (Ismelin) and
clonidine (Catapres)
• Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
and chlorphenermine (Chlortrimeton)
• Antipsychotics, such as chlorpromazine (Thorazine),
promazine (Sparine), and thioridazine (Mellaril)
• Amphetamines and narcotics, such as meperidine
(Demerol) and morphine
• Anticonvulsants, such as lithium and carbamazepine
• Antidepressants and anti-anxiety agents, such as Paxil,
Elavil, and Zoloft
• Muscle relaxants, such as Norflex and Flexeril
• Diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide
Ask your physician if the drugs that you are taking can
be the cause of your gum problems. In many of my patients
who have thickened saliva and dry mouth, I find that these
conditions have been caused by medications. If I have been
seeing a patient frequently, and I have not noticed these
symptoms before, or they were not recorded on the medical
history, I ask the patient if he or she is taking any medica-tion. Dry mouth can cause gum irritation, and the loose gum
tissue becomes a greater holding site for bacteria and
infected gums.
Remedies: Seek professional advice. Also get over-thecounter
saliva replacements, such as Biotine or Arm and
Hammer baking soda chewing gum, which will moisturize
your mouth. Frequent professional cleanings also help. At
home, use frequent herbal mouth rinses to moisturize your
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Conditions of the Body That Cause Gum Disease - part 3

Herpes Simplex Virus
Herpes simplex is an inflammatory viral disease that manifests
itself as ulcers in the mouth and gingival tissues. The
gums can become inflamed, especially in the region of the
ulcers. If you have a severe occurrence of the virus, then you
should seek medical advice to see if there are other underlying
factors causing this condition. Herpes simplex can be
chronic and latent, returning later in life. The gums can
become inflamed, especially in the regions of the ulcers.
Remedies: Seek medical advice. Bed rest is important.
Drink plenty of fluids, and stay away from juices that contain
acid, such as grapefruit juice and orange juice.
Dermatitis is a diseased condition that appears as inflammation
of the skin. The gum tissue is much like the skin on
your face and shares similar histologic (cellular structure)
characteristics. Diseases affecting your skin are lichen
planus, candidiasis, psoriasis, pemphigus vulgaris, and
Lichen planus is a chronic disease related to the immune
system, often affecting people in middle age. It affects the
mucous membranes of the mouth. You may see a white lacy
line on the gingiva (gum tissue). You may be prone to plaque
retention on the teeth and therefore develop gingivitis.
Remedies: If you have lichen planus, seek medical
advice. Topical steroids can be useful in controlling flareups.
There is no cure for this problem.
Candidiasis is produced by candida, a fungal yeast
infection. It is also referred to as thrush or acute
pseudomembranous candidiasis. The roof of your mouth and
cheeks are covered with white patches that when wiped off,
leave a very sensitive, reddened, ulcerative area. This condition
can cause more plaque retention and poor oral hygiene
conditions, thus creating a severe gum problem.
Remedies: See your physician to have him or her suggest
antifungal agents, which can be either topical or systemic.
Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes a sloughing
off of cells. It is often found on the elbows, knees, or other joints, and on the scalp. Psoriasis also can affect the fingernails
and the gums and oral cavity. It may leave the gums
loose and irritated. Psoriasis, when aggravated, can be itchy
and flaky, and a source of great annoyance to the person who
has it.
Remedies: A high-protein/low-fat diet can help in controlling
the condition. Eating fats and sugars aggravates psoriasis,
so it is best to eat lots of raw fruits and vegetables.
Cucumbers, celery, and grapefruit, which are known as
blood-cooling foods, are extremely good for people with
psoriasis. Seek medical advice as well.
Pemphigus affects elderly people, and women more frequently
than men. The skin and mucous membranes as well
as the gingiva are affected. A reddening of the tissue occurs,
which can cause the gums to recede.
Remedies: Seek professional advice. Topical steroids
may be necessary.
Pemphigoid is a lesion most common in women beyond
middle age. It can affect the oral mucous. It may be a cause
of irritation to the gingiva.
Remedies: Seek professional advice. Physicians are
most likely to prescribe steroids.
Alcohol abuse affects the liver. Liver damage may develop
into hepatitis or cirrhosis, a chronic inflammatory disease of
the liver. Excessive alcohol use also affects the cardiovascular
and nervous systems. Oral effects shown in alcoholics
include bleeding gums and easy bruising. Individuals who
drink excessively usually have poor oral hygiene habits.
Remedies: Have professional cleanings frequently. Take
vitamins and try to eat properly. Drink plenty of water and
reduce your alcohol consumption. Seek counseling for help
in reducing alcohol abuse.
Cancer of the Head and Neck
Cancer of the head and neck can cause gum problems and
excessive bleeding. If you have been treated with chemotherapy,
you will notice that your gums will bleed easily and
you may also be prone to infection. If you have been undergoing
radiation treatment, you may find that your mouth is
always dry. This condition is called “xerostomia.” Dry
mouth can cause more plaque retention and make your teeth
prone to decay, especially if your gums have receded to the
point where the roots are exposed.
Remedies: Have frequent cleanings. Eat a balanced diet
and drink more fluids. If you find that you are suffering from
dry mouth, there are supplements you can purchase in the
drugstore that act as saliva and moisturize the oral cavity.
You can purchase Biotine products in health food stores; a
mouthwash and toothpaste are available specifically for dry
mouth. You can also use baking soda chewing gum, which
enhances the flow of saliva and helps neutralize the acids
that are prevalent in dry mouth.
AIDS is defined as acquired immune deficiency syndrome,
a severe condition that is different from any other disease
because it has no constant specific symptoms. People with
HIV infection or AIDS have oral manifestations that appear as inflamed gum tissue and severely inflamed mucous tissue.
These individuals can also have abnormalities such as herpes
appearing in the mouth, leukoplakia (a whitish patch
found on the cheek), and precancerous lesions. People with
AIDS are more prone to gingivitis, a reddening of the gum
at the tooth margin.
Patients who have AIDS are also prone to getting thrush
or candidiasis, a white patch that is usually found on the
palate (roof of the mouth). Patients with AIDS also are more
likely to have acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis
(ANUG). With ANUG, a person suffers severe pain in the
region of the mouth and has a characteristic, unpleasant
mouth odor. There is spontaneous bleeding, and sometimes
severe bleeding in the gums.
Remedies: See a dentist or hygienist. Have routine
cleanings, and use echinacea toothpaste to nurture the gum
tissue. Use aloe to soothe your irritated gums (apply at
night only).
Leukemia and Other Diseases
The oral cavity can be a diagnostic indicator for many diseases
of the immune system. The lymphocytes (white blood
cells, or disease-fighting cells) are the key cells of the
immune system. Systemic diseases characterized by reduced
host defense include diabetes and Down’s syndrome. They
are usually accompanied by severe gum disease. Leukemia
is another disease that shows up in the gum tissue. In certain
forms of leukemia, there is increased susceptibility to infection
and periodontal disease. Gum disease is a problem
because of the immunosuppression associated with the disease. In certain forms of leukemia, such as myeloblastic
leukemia, gingival enlargement occurs as a result of the
leukemia cells in the gum tissue.
Remedies: Seek professional guidance. Develop good
oral hygiene at home and clean your mouth frequently. Eat
softer foods, chew your foods carefully, and drink fluids
while you are eating. Have frequent cleanings by your dentist
or hygienist; and at home use herbal rinses, keep your
mouth clean with baking soda or sea salt, and massage the
gums with oreganol (two or three drops on top of an herbal
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Conditions of the Body That Cause Gum Disease - part 2

Oral Contraceptives and Pregnancy
Inflammation of the gums is common in women who take
oral contraceptives and in women who are pregnant. The
gum tissues become swollen and engorged with blood.
Birth control pills work by introducing high levels of estrogen
and progesterone into the body, to fool it into thinking
it is pregnant.
If you are pregnant and notice a swelling or lump on the
gums surrounding one or more teeth, you probably have what
is known as “a pregnancy tumor.” This lesion is not really a
tumor but a local area of granulated (thickened) tissue.
Pregnancy tumors disappear after your pregnancy ceases.
• Massage the gum tissue with a soft brush, which will
help reduce inflammation.
• Use baking soda toothpaste or baking soda straight out
of the box, as this can reduce swelling. Baking soda is an antacid that can balance the pH of your mouth, leaving
it less prone to gum disease and tooth decay.
• Use sea salt rinses to help reduce swollen tissue.
• Consult your gynecologist about a proper diet.
• See your dental hygienist frequently for cleanings.
Women who enter menopause go through hormonal
changes. Usually there is a lack of estrogen and progesterone,
which causes osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is the thinning
and loss of bone structure in the body. In the mouth
there can be a form of osteoporosis leading to bone loss surrounding
the teeth. The bone supports the teeth and holds
them in their sockets. New bone is made by osteoblast
(bone-building) cells, and old bone is restored by
osteoblasts. However, estrogen in the body reduces
osteoblasts, causing bone resorption. The role of progesterone
is to stimulate the osteoblasts that aid in new bone
formation. Thus progesterone is very important in stimulating
new bone growth. Hormones play an important role in
gum disease and can be the precursor to the condition.
Remedies: Seek advice from your gynecologist regarding
hormone replacement in menopause.
Prior to and during menopause, certain foods can help
eliminate your symptoms of gum disease. Papaya, for example,
contains phytoestrogen, which can be added to your diet
to help increase estrogen in your body. Estrogen levels can
increase with the intake of certain foods such as soybeans
and soy products such as tofu, miso, and boiled beans.
Phytoestrogen is also found in apples, carrots, yams, green beans, peas, potatoes, red beans, brown rice, whole wheat,
rye, and sesame seeds. Flaxseeds and other seeds have some
estrogen potential. Phytoestrogens are similar but not identical
to the estrogen produced by the body. Phytoestrogens are
plant-derived compounds, and are more natural than the prescribed
drugs on the market. If you notice that your skin is
dry, take flaxseed or pumpkin seed.
Additional remedies
• Herbs: Use rosemary or oreganol (oil of oregano),
which are both helpful in the prevention of gum
• Hormone replacement: To regulate the hormone levels
in your body, seek a physician’s advice.
• Diet: Soybeans, tofu, miso, boiled beans, apples, carrots,
yams, green beans, peas, potatoes, red beans,
brown rice, whole wheat, rye, and sesame seeds are
good. Flaxseed acts as a lubricant and will help prevent
dry skin and gums from receding. Your gums are similar
to your skin, and you want to moisturize your gum
tissue as you would your skin.
Anemia is a disease in which people have reduced red blood
cells, which can result in poor circulation. The blood in
patients with anemia lacks iron and carries less oxygen to
the tissues, and this causes periodontal problems. The symptoms
of anemia are extreme fatigue, weakness, confusion
and loss of concentration, pale skin, rapid heartbeat, feeling
cold, sadness, and depression. Getting oxygen to the tissue
is important for healthy gums, and the lack of it reduces
resistance to infection.
Anemia is most prevalent in women who are menstruating
or pregnant; and African Americans are prone to getting
sickle cell anemia. If you have this condition, you
should know that you can have serious calcium loss. The
chances of gum disease are great for anyone who has this
condition, because calcium is needed for strong teeth and
bones. If you have a shortage of calcium, it may affect the
supportive bone structure that holds the teeth in their
Remedies: Seaweed, which may be purchased in health
food stores, is the best source of iron. Liver is another good
source of iron. Pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds are also
good choices for people who are anemic. Apples contain
substances that help the body absorb the iron in foods such
as eggs and liver. Cherries are high in iron and are an excellent
blood builder. Anemia is most prevalent in women who
are menstruating or pregnant. Iron is deficient in these conditions,
and it is suggested that you seek advice from your
physician about taking supplements. And if your gum tissue
is spongy and loose, see your dental professional for a good
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Conditions of the Body That Cause Gum Disease - part 1

Conditions such as diabetes can appear as gum disease and
be the causative factor of the problem. Diabetes is a chronic degenerative disease caused by a lack of the hormone
insulin. Insulin is essential for the proper metabolism of
blood sugar. Excessive glucose (blood sugar) in the body’s
system is toxic. People with diabetes have abnormally high
carbohydrate and sugar in their diets. Gum disease and dental
problems are more prevalent in patients with diabetes and
excessive glucose levels. People with diabetes also have a
tendency to have bad breath due to excess acid in their systems.
It is well known by dental professionals that patients
with diabetes have dry mouths, and that less oxygen is consumed
by their system. The lack of oxygen to the mouth can
cause the gum tissue to dry out and loosen. Loose gum tissue
can lead to pockets that then become a holding place for
food and bacteria, and the bacteria under the gum can eat
away the bone. In addition, people with diabetes have difficulty
healing; therefore, even a scraping of the gum can lead
to a sore, infected abscess.
People who have diabetes can easily acquire abscesses
on their gums and usually have noticeable changes of the
mucous membranes in their mouth. A condition called
angular chelitis can develop, which appears as cracks in
the corners of the mouth. This is common for people with
• See your dental hygienist frequently for cleanings.
• Ask your doctor about regulating your diet, so that you
are less prone to excessive blood sugar levels.
• Drink healing foods, in particular, juices that can
reduce the acids in your mouth. The juice from string
beans, parsley, cucumber, celery, and watercress can
reduce acid-mouth. Another suggestion is to combine carrots, celery, parsley, spinach, and broccoli in a
blender. Use three or four carrots with stems, four or
five stems each of celery and broccoli, and a few
sprigs of parsley along with a handful of spinach.
Process, and have one or two glasses of this a day.
Juice made from all these ingredients will help “cool
down” the gum tissue that has become “heated up”
from acids in the mouth. Blueberries are also a smart
food choice, as they create a more alkaline environment
in the mouth.
Women often show signs of gum problems during menstruation.
This is because the monthly cycle brings on various
hormonal changes among the hypothalamus, the pituitary
gland, and the ovaries. At the beginning of each cycle, estrogen
causes a thickening of the lining of the uterus (the
endometrium) with blood; the cervical fluid is released,
resulting in menstruation.
The mouth also releases fluid, and bleeding gums may
appear before, during, and sometimes after menstruation.
Hormonal changes also affect gum tissue, leaving the gums
soft and spongy. Have you noticed that around the time of
your period your toothbrush becomes red? Don’t get scared;
it is a natural process. I have observed that when my female
patients have abnormally soft, spongy gum tissue, they are
either menstruating or about to menstruate. Your immune
system also is affected by hormonal changes. A weakened
area in your mouth may become even weaker at this time.
You also may notice an area in your mouth that bothers you during menstruation, and then after your period cycle it
seems to be fine.
• Massage the gums with a soft brush, which brings
blood flow to them.
• Brush with a cleanser such as baking soda, which will
also neutralize the acids in your mouth. Baking soda is
not abrasive and can help keep the space between the
teeth and gums clean.
• Rinse with sea salt.
• If you are premenstrual or have your menses, eat fresh
fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fish.
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How to Start Caring for Your Gums at Home

Gum tissue is connected to the bone by fibers. You can
achieve reattachment of these gum fibers by using a gentle
massaging stroke with a soft brush. So, using the side of a
small-headed, soft toothbrush that has a dab of herbal toothpaste
on it, gently massage the tissue with a shimmying sideto-
side stroke.
Such massage stimulates circulation, which aids healing
in the gum tissue. Using a massage stroke with a soft brush
will help you bring the healing blood cells of the gums to the
surface. It is the healing cells of the gums that will help to
reattach gum tissue to the tooth. Think of the skin on your face. If you massage the skin on your face and create more
circulation, then you are more likely to get a healthier and
tighter appearance to your skin. The gum tissue is similar to
the skin on your face in that both need proper products and
massage. In Chinese medicine, natural blood-building tonics
such as dong quai improve circulation. This can bring a
healthy blood flow and stimulation to the gum tissue, and
balance the female hormonal chemistry, which has a direct
correlation to the health of our gum tissue.
If the gum tissue feels too sore when you first practice
brush massage, then just proceed by rinsing frequently. In a
day or two, when the tissue heals, you can begin massaging
the gums again in order to bring the healing blood cells to
the surface.
Do not rush the process, or you will irritate the gums and
cause more harm than good. If your gums bleed and you are
frightened to work on them because you think you may
make the condition worse, seek the advice of a professional.
Bleeding gums can be a sign that there is disease still present.
However, with a gentle massage, the healing blood cells
generally will surface to start reversing the disease naturally.
Salt water and herbal rinses will help soothe any irritated tissue.
Also, start taking a multiple vitamin B complex daily
along with vitamin C. This will help in the natural healing
process of your gums. If you feel you are under a lot of stress
(which is a major cause of gum disease), take a multiple
vitamin with zinc. Keep the gum pockets clean and gently
floss. If you find that flossing is too hard at this point and
causes pain, then work only with oral rinses of herbs and
salt. In a few days, when your gums feel stronger, you can
return to flossing.
As your mouth continues to recover from the treatment it
received in the dental office, recognize that the foods you eat
after root planing should not be too hot or too cold. Think of
your gums as you would your skin: if you were to put ice or
a hot substance on your skin, you would then notice irritation.
The same condition can arise in your mouth. Another
important suggestion is to stay away from spices when you
are trying to heal your gum tissue. If you had a wound on
your hand, you would not apply spices to the surface of the
wound. The same applies to your gums. So it is best to eat
bland foods while your gums are healing.
Miso (Japanese soy) soup is very soothing to the gum tissue,
and you can feel the effects after drinking it. Avoid eating
fruit with a lot of vitamin C after gum treatments. While
the fruit may provide the proper nutrients to strengthen the
gum tissue, the acids from the juices that come in direct contact
with the gums may irritate the healing tissue. Juices that
are very acidic, such as orange or grapefruit, are not recommended
immediately after a cleaning. Biting into an orange
or other citrus fruit will irritate the gum tissue. Also, try to
stay away from hard nuts and candy. Candy and sugar turn
to acid in the mouth, and this will irritate the gum tissue.
After a few days, if you want orange juice, sip the juice
through a straw.
Such nurturing of the tissue will accelerate the reattachment
of the gum fibers to the tooth. The soreness and pain
should lessen with time. Pain in the gum tissue feels like a
dull ache and will diminish in a day or two after a professional
scaling and root planing. Healing is a natural process
that can be accelerated through the power of positive
thoughts. If you are confident and understand the natural process of healing that is taking place in your mouth, then
you will achieve faster results.
Follow these other guidelines:
• Sleep well: Sleep will allow the immune system to be
• Eat a proper diet: Food plays an important role in
healing the mouth and body.
• Use vitamin therapy: Vitamin B complex with C and
magnesium is helpful; always remember, diet is most
• Drink soothing liquids: Foods that heal include miso
soup and chicken soup.
• Rinse frequently: Sea salt and herbal rinses soothe the
gum tissue.
• Massage the gum tissue: Use an herbal toothpaste—
herbs soothe the gum tissue and nurture new cells.
• Oxygenate: Breathe deeply—take in lots of oxygen.
• Think positively: Mind over matter—the mind operates
the healing process.
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