Gum problems, infection and disease
Herbal and plant extracts 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
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.
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.
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 composition 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 agent which protects against cavities 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 cavities in rats published in "Caries research" (1991) for instance found that propolis inhibited the activity of streptococcal bacteria species involved in dental cavities, with the animals fed propolis developing significantly less tooth decay than those that were not; see www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1836157).
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 is 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.
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. Weleda, 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.
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's 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 glyconutrients, 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, gingivitis, periodontitis, and more.
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 for 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 1000 ml 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.
Marjoram (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".
A compound (Glycyrrhizol A) found in licorice root has shown strong antimicrobial activity against cariogenic bacteria.
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.
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).
Suggestions found at www.grannymed.com/meds/gum-infection.aspx
- eating fresh apples
- 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.
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.
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1 (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).
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.
5 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.
6 For background on cayenne, compare On Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper (incl. a caveat).
7 Glyconutrients are naturally occurring plant compounds credited with health benefits, compare On Supplementing, Natural & Commercial Glyconutrients (such as Mannatech’s Ambrotose®) and Cancer.
8 Also see Aloe Vera - the medicine plant for tips on growing and using the plant, etc.
9 Background on this herbal remedy eg at Swedish Bitters Healing Testimonials: A Powerful Herbal Remedy?.
10 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.