Gingivitis, or inflamed gums, is a common condition throughout the world. More than half of US adults experience bleeding gums, a common sign of gingivitis. Gingivitis is an early form of periodontal disease, also called periodontitis.
Untreated gingivitis can lead to all sorts of whole body health issues, most notably heart diseases.
Although a dental hygienist can recommend multiple treatments for gingivitis, there are also several effective home remedies for gingivitis. If you’re between check-ups and are concerned you may be developing gingivitis, you can try these methods at home. (We know a lot of people want to avoid the dentist if they can.)
What is the fastest way to cure gingivitis? The fastest way to cure gingivitis is to maintain daily oral hygiene, avoid sugary foods and foods high in acids, drink plenty of water, and practice effective home treatment.
Check out these 9 science-backed home remedies, and say goodbye to gingivitis.
#1. Oil Pulling
You may have heard of oil pulling. It’s growing in popularity, and there’s a surprising amount of scientific evidence behind it.
How can I treat gingivitis at home? You can treat gingivitis at home with alternative treatments like oil pulling and a salt water rinse — both of which have almost no side effects, unlike alcohol-based mouthwashes.
How to do oil pulling:
- Swish about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 5 minutes. It should turn into a liquid in your mouth. Don’t swallow any of the coconut oil.
- Once you’re done, spit the coconut oil into the trash. It will turn into a solid at room temperature, so it’s safe for the garbage can. Don’t spit it down the drain.
- Rinse out your mouth. As you get used to oil pulling, increase your swish time from 5 minutes to 15 minutes.
You can also try Arimedadi oil pulling, another Ayurvedic tactic similar to coconut oil pulling but with less scientific evidence behind it.
#2. Salt Water Rinse
A salt water mouth rinse can help treat gingivitis and ease symptoms. This 2016 study shows that a salt water rinse helps treat wounds on the gum line caused by gingivitis.
A newer study shows “that the use of a sea salt-based mouthwash in daily oral hygiene reduces the bacterial levels” that contribute to gingivitis — although that newer study also incorporated xylitol and lysozyme.
Can you get rid of gingivitis on your own? Yes, you can get rid of gingivitis on your own with home remedies like oil pulling to kill the bad bacteria and a salt water rinse to heal the gingival wounds.
A salt water mouth rinse also helps heal your gums after gum surgery, including minimally invasive periodontal surgery to treat gingivitis. This further shows how salt water can heal your gums.
How to make a good salt water rinse:
- Mix 1 teaspoon of salt into 8 ounces of warm water.
- Gently swish the salt water around your mouth for about 30 seconds. Don’t swallow the water.
- Once you’re finished, spit out the salt water.
- Repeat the salt water rinse 3 times a day until your gums don’t feel tender.
#3. Lemongrass Mouthwash
Lemongrass is an essential oil that has been used to deal with digestive problems and even high blood pressure. But lemongrass mouthwash has another health benefit; it may work better than conventional mouthwash at treating and preventing gingivitis.
A 2015 study showed that a 0.25% lemongrass oil mouthwash performed marginally better than a 0.2% chlorhexidine mouthwash at reducing dental plaque and gingival status.
A newer study further concluded that lemongrass oil mouthwash may be effective in the “treatment of chronic periodontitis and [prevention] of cardiovascular diseases.” Remember, periodontitis is another term for gingivitis.
Important reminder: Untreated gingivitis can absolutely lead to heart disease.
How to make an effective lemongrass oil mouthwash:
- Mix 2-3 drops of lemongrass essential oil in 8 ounces of water.
- Gently swish lemongrass oil mouthwash around your mouth for about 30 seconds.
- Once you’re finished, spit it out down the drain.
- Repeat lemongrass oil mouthwash 3 times a day until your gums don’t feel tender.
#4. Baking Soda
Baking soda is used in baking and cleaning, but it may also help remove dental plaque, soften tartar, and prevent gingivitis. It may be most effective to blend baking soda with water to make a dentifrice — or a baking soda paste.
Using a toothpaste with added baking soda can also increase your gingival health.
How can I reverse gingivitis naturally? You can reverse gingivitis naturally with home remedies like baking soda, a tea tree oil mouthwash, or a salt water rinse to heal your gums. Keep up your good oral health to prevent periodontal disease.
How to make an effective baking soda paste:
- Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with warm water. You can adjust the amount of water depending on your texture preference.
- If you created a thicker paste, gently rub the baking soda paste on your gums for 30 seconds. Once you’re done, rinse out your mouth with warm salt water.
- If you created a liquid mixture, gently swish the baking soda mouth rinse for about 30 seconds. Once you’re done, spit it out down the drain.
- Repeat up to 3 times a day until your gums don’t feel tender.
#5. Topical Turmeric Gel
Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory compound that may prevent gingivitis. Its chief constituent is curcmunin, which boasts many health benefits, including dental health. Your digestive tract destroys a lot of the curcumin in turmeric, but using turmeric on your gums maintains much of the healing curcumin.
A 2016 scientific review revealed that turmeric may be effective at “preventing and treating gingivitis.”
How to make and use a topical turmeric gel:
- Mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric (or curcuma) with a little warm water. You can adjust the amount of water depending on your texture preference.
- Gently apply the gel to your tender gums.
- Let the turmeric gel sit for 10 minutes. Try not to tense your facial muscles too much, to avoid soreness.
- Swish warm water around your mouth to collect all of the gel. Then spit out the water. Try not to swallow any gel, but it’s not toxic. Your mouth should feel free of any turmeric.
- Repeat 2 times a day until your gums don’t feel tender.
Some suggest combining baking soda, turmeric, and salt to rub on their gums.
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#6. Aloe Vera Mouth Rinse
Aloe vera is a common treatment for sunburn, but it may also help with “treating plaque-induced gingivitis.”
A 2016 study showed that aloe vera was as effective as conventional chlorhexidine mouthwash at ameliorating plaque and gingivitis.
How to make and use an aloe mouth rinse:
- Mix ½ cup of aloe vera juice with 1 cup of water. You can use less water, depending on your taste preference.
- Gently swish the aloe mouth rinse around your mouth for about 30 seconds. Don’t swallow the water.
- Once you’re finished, spit out the aloe vera water down the drain.
- Repeat 3 times a day until your gums don’t feel tender.
#7. Tea Tree Oil Mouthwash
Also known as melaleuca oil, tea tree oil is an antibacterial essential oil that comes from the tea tree that grows in the swampy southeastern Australian coast. It can be toxic in large amounts, but tea tree oil is a popular essential oil that fights harmful bacteria.
This 2020 study revealed that tea tree oil can be a beneficial alternative to alcohol-based mouthwash. Tea tree oil mouthwash may be an effective gingivitis therapy.
Even older studies show that tea tree oil gel can help with gingivitis, without any reported side effects.
How to make and use a tea tree oil mouthwash:
- Mix 2-3 drops of tea tree oil in 8 ounces of warm water.
- Gently swish tea tree oil mouthwash around your mouth for about 30 seconds. Do not swallow; tea tree oil can have side effects if ingested.
- Once you’re done, spit it out into the drain.
- Repeat lemongrass oil mouthwash 3 times a day until your gums don’t feel tender.
Tea tree oil may interact with certain medications, and it is toxic if ingested, so you should speak to your healthcare provider before using any homemade mouthwash.
#8. Clove Oil
Clove oil is a multifaceted essential oil, whose primary constituent is eugenol, a beneficial phenylpropanoid. Eugenol has antioxidant, antifungal, and antibacterial properties, making it a popular natural remedy.
A comparative study concluded that mouthwashes containing clove oil (among other essential oils) were “beneficial clinically as antiplaque and antigingivitis agents.”
Clove has definite potential to be used for its anti-plaque and anti-inflammatory properties in the treatment of gingivitis.
How to make and use a clove oil mouthwash:
- ½ cup of warm water with 3-6 drops of clove essential oil.
- Gently swish clove oil mixture around your mouth for about 30 seconds.
- Once you’re finished, spit it out into the drain.
- Repeat 3 times a day until your gums don’t feel tender anymore.
#9. Green Tea
Green tea-based mouthwashes may also be an effective prevention and treatment method against gingivitis.
Green tea chewing gum has been shown to reduce plaque and gingival inflammation. If such chewing gum contains xylitol, all the better — xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is good for your oral health.
Supplementing with green tea extract may also have health benefits for your periodontal health.
Healthy Habits to Prevent Gingivitis
Prevention is the best way to avoid disease, such as gingivitis. Then you don’t have to use any home remedies. In order to present gingivitus at home, follow these rules of good oral hygiene:
- Brush your teeth twice a day — using gentle circles at a 45° angle towards your gums.
- Floss in between your teeth daily — but without pressing hard on your gums.
- Use a natural mouthwash — but not an alcohol-based solution that can ruin your oral microbiome.
- Air dry your toothbrush — with your brush head facing up and situated far from a flushing toilet, so as to avoid bacteria growing in the bristles.
- Avoid sugary foods — since sugar feeds the bad bacteria in your mouth.
Foods That Fight Gum Disease
Here are some foods and beverages that fight gum disease:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Green and red bell peppers
- Sugar free xylitol gum
- Probiotic-rich foods
- Green tea (no sugar)
- Fatty fish
- Nuts and seeds
- Dairy, like milk and cheese
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Treatments to Avoid
You might think some of the below methods will make gingivitis better, these “treatments” may actually disrupt your oral care:
- Don’t floss harder. Your gums can get more inflamed, or you could cut your gums and expose them to infection.
- Don’t brush harder. Brush your teeth with gentle circles. If you brush too hard, it can not only harm your teeth, but it can also harm your gums.
- Don’t use alcohol-based mouthwashes. Conventional mouthwashes are often alcohol-based, which means they kill all the good and bad bacteria in your mouth, which may disrupt the balance of your oral microbiome.
Common Symptoms of Gingivitis
Here are the common symptoms of gingivitis, AKA periodontal disease or early periodontitis:
- Swollen gums
- Dark red gums
- Receding gums
- Sore gums
- Gums that bleed easily
- Halitosis (bad breath)
Can gum damage be reversed?
Yes, gum damage can be reversed. You have to be gentle with your gums but intentional with your oral health. There are natural home remedies for gingivitis with few to no side effects, such as oil pulling, essential oil mouthwashes, and a wound healing salt water rinse.