Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gum tissue mostly due to plaque. When left untreated, this can lead to periodontitis, a destructive form of gum disease that can result in loss of tooth, infection of jaw bones etc. Some of the symptoms of gingivitis include swollen gums, bleeding gums after brushing, bright red or purple gums, tender and painful gums.
Conventional medical texts say that bacterial plaque causes gingivitis. Plaque gets concentrated in the tiny gaps, also known as plaque traps, between teeth. One such trap is the tartar formed on teeth. Gingivitis can be prevented with daily brushing and flossing. Hydrogen peroxide as mouthwash is found to be effective in preventing gingivitis.
Conventional treatment for gingivitis includes removal of plaque and reduction of oral bacteria. Of late, using essential oils as mouthwashes is found to be beneficial in treating gingivitis.
Siddha medicinal system uses tripalai (triphala) kudineer to treat gingivitis. The three ingredients of tripalai are kadukkai (Terminalia chebula), nellikkai (Embilica Officinalis), thanrikkai (Terminalia Belerica). 10 gm of the pulp of each of these ingredients is taken and ground to a powder of coarse consistency. This is then added to 800 ml of water and boiled and reduced to one fourth. 30 ml to 50 ml of this infusion is used as a mouthwash and gargle.
One advantage of this mouthwash is unlike the conventional mouthwashes this does not disturb the natural balance of bacteria in the mouth. The herbs have good wound healing properties and rapidly heal the gingival ulcers and strengthen the gums.
One simple complementary remedy would be ‘nallennai koppulithal’ or ‘oil pulling’ with sesame oil. Oil pulling helps in maintaining oral hygiene and quick healing of gingivitis. Oil pulling or oil swishing is the process where a tablespoon of sesame oil taken and swished in the mouth first thing in the morning, for 15 to 20 minutes till the oil loses its viscosity and becomes thin. The oil is then spat out, and the teeth brushed in the regular manner.
The tripalai and oil pulling regimen should be continued until the resolution of gingivitis. Oil pulling can be continued and made into a regular practice to prevent formation of tartar in the future. Oil pulling has a number of other health benefits too. Neem and cinnamon twigs can be used in cleaning the teeth. While extensive scrubbing with twigs can damage the gums, when used in moderation they are very effective in curbing bad breath, and offer the same protection as tooth brush without any chemical laden toothpastes.