Gum problems, infection and disease
Herbal and plant extracts and natural home remedies, therapeutic rinses and mouthwashes to help heal gingivitis & periodontitis
As with any page containing "herbal advice", the reader is reminded of Healing Teeth Naturally's introductory General advice and considerations re using herbal and similar nature-derived remedies to heal, treat or improve one's gums and teeth.
- Herbal Gum Infection Home Remedies
- Miscellaneous Gum Infection Natural Treatments & Cures
- Curing periodontal pockets: healing periodontitis naturally (incl. psychological issues in gum disease)
- Essential Oils for Oral Care and Healing of Gums
Herbal Gum Infection Home Remedies
You should find a number of the below recommended herbs and other natural substances even in toothpastes, mouthwashes and similar dental care products sold in and outside of natural food stores. If you do use any commercial toothpastes however (i.e. including any health-food variety) rather than simpler (and often much healthier) toothpaste alternatives, make sure to read about possible hazards of "normal" toothpastes (which include major damage to the gums!).
Similarly, with any commercial mouthwashes, please watch out for solvents and other chemical pollutants. Unless specifically stated, all such products are likely to be polluted with any number of potential (or even proven) toxins hazardous to health. As seems to frequently be the case, simple, self-made and/or natural (as in the following gum remedy list) is likely safest and best.9
Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) tea
From Father Kneipp to Father Kuenzle, several famous herbalists have sung the praises of the humble horsetail herb. Maria Treben specifically mentions its use for bleeding and inflamed gums. To prepare, bring 1/4 litre (c. 8.5 fluid ounces) of water to the boil, pour over 1 heaped teaspoon of horsetail. Use the cooled tea as a mouth rinse. Also said to help against tooth decay, canker sores, thrush and inflammation of the oral mucosa.
Salt water rinse / oral irrigation
In addition to being the overall best toothache remedy, (sea) salt water also is an excellent mouthwash, cleansing the mouth and gums and fighting infections. A testimonial reads, "I've used salt water for gum problems with great success, I was fine the day after, basically. Amazing how fast that works with inflammation of the mucosa."
If you have a WaterPik or similar oral irrigator which allows the use of salt water (check the unit's Instructions For Use), you may wish to try this for a deep cleanse between your teeth as well. If you add a few drops of myrrh tincture to your salt water it may not only taste better but you will have added a traditional "gum helper" to your rinse (compare Myrrh). A similar thing applies of course to other herbs such as Calendula etc.
White oak bark
See Herbs for strengthening teeth and gums (includes gum healing testimonial where loose teeth scheduled for extraction became firm again).
A Russian combination treatment for gingivitis also includes salt and oak bark.
Propolis is a sticky resinous substance of varying chemical composition1 that honey bees gather from tree buds or other plant sources to use as a sealant in their hives. Anti-inflammatory (antiphlogistic), propolis may exhibit strong localized antifungal and antibiotic properties and help fight infections of mouth and throat as well as speed up the healing of gums (incl. toning/strengthening the tissues and fighting bleeding and receding gums). Due to its antimicrobial activity, propolis is also being researched as an anti-plaque and caries-protective agent, etc., see www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=propolis+caries .
(For what it is worth with respect to humans - research into the effects of propolis on dental caries in rats done by Ikeno K et al. and published in "Caries research" [1991;25:347-51] for instance found that propolis inhibited the activity of streptococcal bacteria species involved in dental caries, with the animals fed propolis developing significantly less tooth decay than those that were not; see www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/183615710).
Propolis may be bought (online, health food store etc.) as pure propolis powder (finely ground) or granules or in the form of a ready-made tincture of propolis. The latter are available in various strengths such as 10%, 30% and 50%, with the 50% solution apparently quite sticky and likely to temporarily turn your teeth dark brown. Suggested uses include swishing the propolis tincture at bedtime through your teeth for several minutes and then swallow, or simply dabbing it on. You may also wish to add some of the propolis tincture into your daily water or herbal tea ration so that your teeth and gums are bathed in the propolis whenever you take a sip.
Propolis success reports include the growing back of receding gums, formerly bright red/purple gums turning a healthy pink, gum sores gone and fresher breath in the morning.
Natural (raw and unheated) honey boasts a wide range of medicinal properties and substances and its broad-spectrum antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect has also been found to help with swollen, infected and painful gums. Simply dab some slightly diluted raw honey onto the affected area(s) and make sure not to eat or drink for half an hour or longer to allow the honey to work before it is flushed from your mouth.12
Healing clay packs
There are many varieties of healing clays such as French green clay and bentonite. Taken internally and/or externally (as packs or poultices), healing clays help draw out and absorb toxins. For an example of a clay product used for dental healing, see Bentonite clay for swelling & pain in gums & teeth. It is likely however that other therapeutic clays are just as effective.
Neem (Melia azadirachta)
The Neem tree, the "tree of 1000 uses" and its products have been used for numerous applications ranging from agriculture to medicine, incl. dental problems (gingivitis or inflamed gums, periodontal disease...). Neem has antimicrobial, anti-malarial, anti-tuberculosis, detoxifying, antiviral, analgesic and other properties. I've also read that it helps prevent plaque.
I've seen myrrh described as THE classic remedy for gum problems. "While the Egyptians used it for embalming their mummies, it helps us to preserve our gums."
Myrrh is an antiseptic/oral disinfectant, a tissue tonic and restorative, i.e. it helps with gum infections, shrinking gums (pyorrhoea), tones/strengthens the gums and helps with loose teeth. Myrrh has a bactericidal effect, prevents parodontitis and helps when gums are already inflamed. Myrrh is frequently found in toothpastes and mouthwashes for treatment and prevention of gum disease.
You can buy myrrh as a ready-made tincture at the pharmacy (drugstore/chemist's), myrrh gum powder or as essential oil. When going for the latter, you can dissolve it yourself in an alcoholic solution (20 drops of myrrh for 50 ml of alcohol at 40% (see explanation of the reason for this at Essential oils for oral care). Tincture of myrrh apparently can be recommended for the daily oral hygiene of anyone.
Another suggested combination is tinctures of myrrh, echinacea and eucalyptus used as a mouthwash.
Calendula has an anti-inflammatory (antiphlogistic) and bactericidal effect. A mouthwash made with calendula and a pinch of salt is suggested to be beneficial to bleeding gums. Weleda2, the well-known producer of natural "anthroposophical" cosmetics, uses Calendula's ability to reduce inflammation, control bleeding and soothe irritated tissue for instance in its baby products.
Dr. Richard Schulze had 9 mm periodontal pockets which he reduced to 2 and 3 mm by using cayenne tincture applied via dental irrigator. Others report brushing their teeth with cayenne powder to good effect eg with inflamed and receding gums. The increased blood flow stimulated by the cayenne pepper can firm up and strengthen the gums and turn them a healthy pink instead of a dark red. If the burning sensation is too strong for you, try "diluting" the cayenne with xylitol or soothing herbs. Alternatively, you can follow up the cayenne brushing eg with oil pulling which reportedly quickly eases any pain.7
Like tormentil, ratanhia is a powerful astringent and tones the skin around your gums and teeth. Ratanhia also helps reduce harmful oral bacteria. It is used for instance in Weleda's2 Ratanhia Mouthwash Concentrate (in combination with myrrh, horse chestnut bark extract [astringent/antiseptic], peppermint and eucalyptus). Weleda recommends its Ratanhia Mouthwash also as a sore throat gargle, using warm water.
A natural food source of glyconutrients3, aloe vera (which can be easily home-grown), is credited with many healing virtues, including in the dental realm. It has been used and/or recommended for mouth or gum ulcers (exerting a weak localized numbing effect), speeding up the healing of damaged gum tissue (such as post-dental surgery), and countering irritation, infection and inflammation (simply smear fresh aloe vera sap/gel on the infected gums). A number of scientific studies have corroborated aloe's antimicrobial effects against tooth decay (dental caries), gingivitis, periodontitis, and more.4
Tormentil is bactericidal and powerfully astringent (bleeding gums). Tormentil is traditionally used with mouth and throat inflammations.
Often lauded as a powerfully healing plant, sage has also been suggested to be capable of keeping the oral flora healthy and effectively help to combat gingivitis and mouth sores. A mouthwash made with sage and a pinch of salt is sugggested to be beneficial to bleeding gums. Gum infection might be helped by rinsing with a decoction of sage (also combined with soothing chamomile). A site visitor "really recommends chewing leaves just like the Indians chew coca leaves. Sleeping with the leaves on has a tremendously dampening effect on any inflammation!"
A Russian combination remedy against inflammation of the gum tissue also includes sage.
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla or recutita)
Chamomile is really an old standby which should hardly require mentioning. Its numerous medicinal properties include antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. One enthusiastic user recommends chamomile tea, "if you want really healthy gums ... Let cool and simply brush your teeth and gums with this. It's absolutely amazing." Apparently just twice-monthly use will achieve great results.
Disinfects and enhances circulation.
Strongly enhances circulation.
Raspberry leaves infusion (tea)
Steep 20 g of raspberry leaves for ten minutes in a liter of boiling water. Apparently helpful as a mouthwash for tonsillitis and gingivitis.
Note: 1 ounce equals 28,35 grams, 1 liter equals approx. a quart.
Simmer 200 g of onions in one liter (a bit more than a quart) of water for ten minutes. Strain, allow to cool and use as a mouthwash for inflammation of the gums. Make sure to keep very cool or mixed with strong alcohol for preservation or it may start to ferment. (Alternatively, prepare only small batches which will be quickly used up.)
Borage (Borago officinalis)
A medicinal herb for gum/oral inflammation.
Melilot or Sweet Clover (Melilotus)
Prepare an infusion made from 5-6 g of melilot for half a liter of water. Use as a rinse/gargle several times daily with tonsillitis or gum inflammation.
Echinacea has a very pronounced anti-inflammatory (antiphlogistic) and bactericidal effect. May be best bought ready-made in the form of Echinacea tincture at the pharmacy (drugstore/chemist's).
Ginger-Cinnamon (and raw honey) Tea
For gums: cut a 2-3 cm (approx. 1") piece of ginger root into fine slices, mix in 1 1/2 cinnamon sticks (pounded/crushed) and simmer in approx. 350 ml of water in a covered pot for 10 minutes. Strain, add one teaspoon of raw honey if desired (after cooling). Cinnamon, ginger and honey contain agents which act as disinfectants and further the healing of wounds. Used regularly as a rinse, this tea kills bacteria, inhibits gum inflammation and wards off colds.
Note: 1 ounce equals 28,35 grams, 1 liter equals 1000 ml equals approx. a quart.
Majoram (Origanum majorana)
Marjoram decoctions also help with the treatment of gingivitis.
Described as a potent anti-inflammatory, tissue healer, as antibacterial/anti-cavity and plaque-reducing as well as "probably the most outstanding herbal remedy for mouth sores".
Swedish Bitters (herbal tincture)
Swedish Bitters are an ancient and powerful herbal formula rediscovered in recent decades by famed Austrian herbalist Maria Treben. Reportedly has helped with toothache, gum problems and mouth ulcers as well as numerous other afflictions.8
Prick open a capsule of natural vitamin E and apply the oil to sore and inflamed gums.
A natural compound found in some primitive plants, MSM is also found in small quantities in numerous foods and beverages and available as a nutritional supplement. An anecdotal report assigns great healing power to MSM when used as a mouthwash for gum problems.
Drs Jacob and Lawrence believe that MSM "offers an additional weapon against gum disease", with the generally recommended dose being 2 to 8 grams daily. When using MSM as a mouthwash, swish the dissolved crystals in your mouth 2 to 3 times daily. Additionally, repeatedly rubbing MSM crystals onto inflamed gum tissue has helped many of Drs Jacob and Lawrence's patients who suffered from gingivitis to lessen the inflammation.11
Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC)
OPC is particularly concentrated in grape seeds and also avaible as a supplement. An Amazon.de reader review of the book Gesund länger leben durch OPC [Live longer healthily thanks to OPC] by Anne Simons dated 4 May 2011 reports that after starting on an OPC supplement in 2002, bleeding gums as well as easy bruising very quickly became a thing of the past.
OPCs among many other benefits also show promise against cancer, see e.g. Research studies: anti-cancer effect of resveratrol, pterostilbene and grapeseed extract (scroll to "Miscellaneous grape compounds against cancer").
A German site visitor pointed me to this OTC remedy (available in pharmacies) writing that "toothache, particularly periodontitis and gum pocket inflammation can be treated rapidly, cheaply and particularly without side effects using PYRALVEX*. For gum inflammation, Pyralvex is applied via the brush provided with the package, for inflamed gum pockets, it is injected using a small 2 ml syringe (incl. plastic cannula).
The pain, especially with inflamed pockets, will be gone within seconds, and two minutes the most. And even the most serious periodontitis will be a thing of the past after two to four days of using Pyralvex two to three times a day."
* Active ingredients: Chinese rhubarb extract (with 5 mg anthraquinone glycosides) and 10 mg Salicylic acid. Also see Herbal tooth and gum powders, mouthwashes and similar products.
For "official" precautions etc. regarding Pyralvex, see for instance www.netdoctor.co.uk/medicines/100002204.html .
Gum packs made with turmeric powder, aloe, willow bark, vitamin E, and powdered alum
See Gum healing testimonial (1): Herbal gum packs for painful and bleeding gums, teeth wiggling in their sockets.
Gum packs with turmeric powder, licorice root, vitamin E and goldenseal rinse
See Gum healing testimonial (2) (sore bleeding gums).
Hydrogen peroxide food grade
has cured serious gum disease. Try using a waterpic or similar irrigator with diluted hydrogen peroxide. Additionally rinse with diluted peroxide prior to brushing to loosen plaque and rinse again afterwards. I'd use plain water for the final rinse (compare Warning). Also compare Hydrogen Peroxide and baking soda cured periodontitis.
Note: The above-recommended gum treatment using honey also makes hydrogen peroxide.
If you have access to it, ozone can also be used to kill bacteria in periodontal pockets.
I've seen anecdotal reports stating that adopting a "paleo diet" (particularly cutting out grains) has completely reversed gum disease, including in a person who had already undergone two gum surgeries but (not surprisingly) continued to have gum problems in spite of regular cleanings. Discontinuing grains allowed this person's gums to heal within months, interestingly in spite of continuing strong plaque buildup (disproving the conventional wisdom which maintains that dental plaque accumulation is THE cause of periodontal disease). (The ingestion of vitamin D and vitamin K2 [MK-4] supplements in this case erased the latter problem for good.)
(The above should not be read to mean that only cutting out grains will allow a person to have healthy gums. It is obvious that many people will enjoy healthy gums who do eat grain products. In fact, just generally upgrading one's diet can reverse gum disease, see for instance Testimonial: healing deep gums pockets naturally.)
Suggestions found at www.grannymed.com/meds/gum-infection.aspx
- eating fresh apples5
- putting locust honey on the infected gum (also described as "good for growing teeth")
- gurgling with lemon juice and salt water
- gurgling with boiled carnations (after cooling)
- blanching thyme-leaved savory and use as gargle
- blanching 3 tablespoons of pomegranate peel (diced) in two cups of water and use as a gargle.
Vitamin C (and baking soda)
for "knitting gums back to the teeth"
According to Dr. Gerard F. Judd's recommendations, "...the gums can be reconnected to the teeth by taking vitamin C (ascorbic acid)6 (1 tsp) with Arm and Hammer baking soda (1/2 tsp) in 1 inch of water, letting it fizz and then diluting to 1/2 to 1 cup with water, then drinking." See more details at Dr. Gerard F. Judd.
A testimonial reads, "I just happened to have a can of 'fruit fresh' in my kitchen ... [which is normally] ... used in the cooking and canning of fruits and vegetables. It's pure Vitamin C, with some dextrose and silica. So ... along with the baking soda, [I] followed Dr. Judd's recommendations, with early promising results. My gums are beginning to reepithelialize, and I think that I may have arrested some decay that was occurring. I encourage anyone to try this for 2 weeks, and you will see a difference. ... years of experience in the vitamin and supplement sales arena taught me to trust completely products from Alacer Corporation, a small company in California. They make EmergenC and many other fine products-and are dedicated to the idea that mineral ascorbates like the one homemade one that Dr. Judd gives the recipe for, can make a huge difference in one's health. ... someone else I trust completely told me to never take a vitamin that contained aluminum-many of the cheaper multivitamins do, including centrum. This was in 1988!"
Vitamin C has also successfully been used as a stand-alone treatment against serious gum disease, see Periodontal disease and vitamin C: Healing periodontitis/gingivitis with ascorbic acid?.
Quit or reduce tobacco use to help your gums
Smoking is well known to be a significant risk factor for developing periodontal disease. So if you are a smoker, here is another good reason to kick the habit.13
Also see these related pages
- Amalgam mercury fillings cause periodontal (gum) disease (gingivitis, periodontitis)
- On psychological issues creating gum disease
- Herbs for strengthening teeth and gums
- Commercial herbal and similar products that may help teeth and/or gum problems and of course the amazing gum healing reports featured at
- Dramatic dental real-life stories of DIY tooth, gum and oral healing.
2 Weleda produces personal care products based on the inspiration of philosopher Dr. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of biodynamic agriculture, anthroposophy (incl. anthroposophical medicine) and Waldorf schools. Weleda uses only pure organic and natural plant extracts and other highest-quality materials and may be the world's best natural cosmetic line.
3 Glyconutrients are naturally occurring plant compounds credited with health benefits, compare On Supplementing, Natural & Commercial Glyconutrients (such as Mannatech’s Ambrotose®) and Cancer.
4 Also see Aloe Vera - the medicine plant for tips on growing and using the plant, etc.
5 Please note that Edgar Cayce advised against eating raw apples unless used during an apples-only fast. According to Cayce, apples should only be eaten baked or cooked. Compare A Summary of Edgar Cayce’s Readings’ View of Illness, Health & Healing.
6 Also compare this testimonial of a man who healed his gum disease with massive doses of vitamin C (from Laura Lee article/interview).
7 For background on cayenne, compare On Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper (incl. a caveat).
8 Background on this herbal remedy eg at Swedish Bitters Healing Testimonials: A Powerful Herbal Remedy?.
9 (there are some notable exceptions, such as the Weleda brand, and likely some of the organic cosmetics providers with high quality standards you can find on the internet).
11 More information on what MSM can do for teeth at MSM (methylsulfonylmethane): dental applications.
12 Background on natural honey as a medical treatment and tips for best preserving honey's beneficial properties under Treating Cancerous Tumors (yes) with Pure Raw Honey Packs.
14 An oral irrigator (aka dental water jet) is a dental hygiene device for home use that helps to dislodge plaque and food debris from between the teeth and below the gumline via a jet of pulsating water. Particularly when used with special subgingival cannula tips, it can also serve to irrigate periodontal pockets.