Gum disease is far more common in the United States than most people realize, but there are easy ways to combat it.  When gums are healthy, they lay tight against the teeth with little space.  When they are not healthy, they pull away from teeth slightly, creating space where bacteria can grow. Gum disease cannot be self diagnosed, regular checkups at your local dental office are highly recommended.

There is some controversy, but there is research that suggests a link between periodontal disease and disease in other parts of the body.  Though some well-respected organizations discount the link and it may be many years before science answers the question, there is no reason not to work to reduce bacteria and prevent gum disease.

There are some things dentists can do to treat gum disease, but they aren’t very pleasant. Dentists can do a deep scaling to remove plaque and bacteria from under the gums.  Many people end up having this procedure done every year or even twice a year, simply because they do nothing in between to prevent the problem from recurring.  For severe gum disease, dentists may trim the gums back.  This is effective, but it can cause sensitivity and pain.

There are many things that you can do at home to stop gum disease, some of which you may have never heard of.  Most dentists educate patients on caring for their teeth, but many of them neglect to educate patients on caring for their gums.  Dr. Vinograd recommends the following tooth/gum care routine:

  1. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush with either water or homemade toothpaste to brush into the gums and remove bacteria from any spaces.
  2. Apply toothpaste (preferably homemade) and brush teeth.
  3. Use dental floss to remove plaque and bacteria from spaces the toothbrush doesn’t reach.

Brushing is great, but it’s not the only thing you can do to prevent or stop gum disease.  The bacteria found under the gums is anaerobic, meaning that it is killed by oxygen.  Introducing oxygen to the space under the gums where they grow can help prevent gum disease, and a great way to do this is using a waterpik to irrigate the mouth with ozonated water.

Some things to keep in mind in choosing and using an ozonator and waterpik:

  • Getting the hang of a waterpik takes time, don’t give up!
  • Find a 1,000 mgh ozone machine to oxygenate water in 15 minutes.  Less powerful machines can take much longer to sufficiently ozonate enough water to clean your mouth.  Also be sure your machine has a Corona discharge.
  • Be sure to ozonate in a well-ventilated area.
  • Find a waterpik with a water reservoir, most travel models won’t have them.
  • Use the middle setting on the pick, as high pressure can damage gums.
  • Don’t wait until gums disease develops or gets bad.  Using these methods when your gums are healthy can keep them that way.

Following these steps in addition to thorough brushing of both teeth and gums can prevent, halt and in some cases even reverse gum disease and can shrink pockets under the gums by as much as 2 mm.  This may not seem like much, but it may mean being able to avoid a painful procedure to treat disease.

These strategies should be used in conjunction with, not instead of, regular care by a dentist.  A dentist who places a priority on gum care can ensure that bacteria are being effectively removed as well as checking for decay and any other issues.

If you are a San Diego resident, and would like help diagnosing your gum health, visit

Dental Gum Disease

Gum Disease Infographic by Brighton Dental San Diego

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