This is the name given to inflammation of the gums (Latin, gingiva) due to bacterial infection. Gingivitis is a form of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease involves inflammation and infection that destroys the tissues that support the teeth, including the gums, the periodontal ligaments, and the tooth sockets (alveolar bone). The gums feel sore, and bleed when brushed or when hard foods are eaten. They may become soft and begin to recede, and because of this, more teeth are lost through gum disease than through tooth decay.

Gingivitis is due to the long-term effects of plaque deposits. Plaque is a sticky material made of bacteria, mucus, and food debris that develops on the exposed parts of the teeth. It is a major cause of tooth decay. If you do not remove plaque, it turns into a hard deposit called tartar that becomes trapped at the base of the tooth. Plaque and tartar irritate and inflame the gums. Bacteria and the toxins they produce cause the gums to become infected, swollen, and tender. Scrupulous attention to mouth hygiene is important, both in treating and preventing gingivitis, and mouthwashes based on essential oils are a great help. Injury to the gums from any cause, including overly vigorous brushing or flossing of the teeth, can cause gingivitis.

Medications such as phenytoin and birth control pills, and heavy metals such as lead and bismuth are also associated with gingivitis. Many people have gingivitis to a varying degree. It usually develops during puberty or early adulthood due to hormonal changes and may persist or recur frequently, depending on the health of your teeth and gums.

There are a number of essences which are useful against the bacteria which cause gum infections, the most important of which are Sage and Thyme. (Thymol, a derivative of thyme oil, is used in the majority of commercial mouthwashes.) The essences of Fennel and Mandarin are also valuable in strengthening the gums, and Myrrh is another indispensable ingredient, for its healing and tonic properties.

You will find a formula for a suitable mouthwash in our recipes section, but many variations are possible. You could use Sage in place of the Thyme, or equal quantities (15 drops) of each, or you could replace the Fennel with Mandarin if you prefer the taste. Keep this mixture in a screw-top bottle and add two teaspoons to a half-tumbler of warm water to swill thoroughly round the mouth at least twice a day.

If the infection is severe, tincture of myrrh can be applied direct to the inflamed areas of gum. Gentle massage of the gums will improve local circulation and speed up healing. To do this, scrub the hands immaculately clean, and put a drop or two of the mouthwash mixture undiluted on the finger tips. Gently but firmly massage the gums, especially around the base of each tooth. This is specially useful when the gums are so sore that it is painful to brush them.

Vitamin C supplementation will help the infection to clear.

See also Mouth Ulcers

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