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“You Have Very Youthful Gums”

Head tilted back, mouth stretched to the max to accommodate fingers, cotton, and something metallic and vaguely medieval, my plaque was sandblasted to smithereens. Dr Mintz peered inside, cocked an eye, and remarked, “You have very youthful gums.”

I cannot deny my unalloyed pleasure on hearing this. I’d been thinking about aging recently, recalling actress Bette Davis’ warning “Old age is not for sissies.” I’d noticed my eyes resembling the hound of the Baskervilles, spots on the back of my hands spreading like pond scum, and my muscles, deprived of their once-youthful supply of testosterone, simply unresponsive to endless reps on the Nautilus.

So I was pleased, really, with this compliment and answered an enthusiastic “Neeennngowgggrrth,” meaning, “Really? Wow, great!”

Dr. Mintz understood immediately “Yes, really. Good job.” An experienced dentist can translate the stuffed-mouth garble of patients with the alacrity of a UN interpreter.

“Mmmggghh. Aaahgg. Ghhrrgh.” Enough. I’ll simply translate myself directly.

I wanted to say to Dr Mintz, “Anyone can do it”
As a quick aside, though I’m a physician and have seen just about everything over the years that might make a non-medical person recoil with dread, for me personally my toes curl in horror at the idea of gum scaling and its evil twin, root planing. Just the thought of anyone digging deeply around my teeth with a sharp object…wait. I’m pausing to recover before I continue.

While Phillip Roth’s 1995 novel Sabbath’s Theatre garnered generally positive reviews and ultimately won the National Book Award for Fiction, one critic (who actually did like the book) remarked that it contained something to offend just about everyone. I had no issues with the explicit sex scenes, misanthropy, perversions, and foul language. What was unforgettable to me is that one character was a periodontist and several paragraphs were (excruciatingly) devoted to the details of gum scraping.

The novel drove my gum diligence to even higher levels.

And now I’m going to share with you how I’ve kept my youthful gums. Even if you have some chronic gum disease, we’ll talk about reversing it before someone’s hand holding a sharp, dreaded G-11 pointed-tip scaler approaches your mouth.

Keeping your gums healthy: the prevention protocol
First, everything you already know. Stop smoking (does anyone still smoke?), for antioxidants eat fresh fruit and veggies, for omega-3s eat fish (or take fish oil capsules), for calcium eat dark green leafy veggies and dairy, and slash your intake of sugar and sugary foods.

Also:

  • Floss twice daily.
  • Choose a toothpaste specifically designed for gum health. PerioBiotic contains a strain of Lactobacillus that gets rid of a harmful Streptococcus mutans, which proliferates in chronic gum disease.

The most important supplements for preventing gum disease are:

Reversing gum disease
You’ve just heard “Looks like we have some gingivitis here. Might need to see a periodontist.” The hygienist no longer makes eye contact with you, turns away, busying herself with her tools.

“Oh, God,” you think. “There must be something I can do.” There is. Many cases of gingivitis can be reversed with a few diligent weeks engaged in the following daily ritual.

First stock up on these supplies:

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
After flossing and brushing your teeth, switch to the soft toothbrush and gently brush your gums. At bedtime, pierce one vitamin E capsule, squeeze the oil onto your fingertip, and massage it into your gums. Then, using the Q-tip, paint your gum line (top and bottom) with the liquid folic acid.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and the weekends
Floss and brush as usual. Then, switching to the soft brush, pour a little of the powdered C into your hand and use it as a tooth powder to brush. Rinse and paint your gum line with folic acid as described above.

You should see improvement within three or four weeks. When your gums are healed, you can drop this ritual and return to the prevention protocol. Think of the pleasure you’ll experience when your dentist says, “Looks like we can skip that periodontist referral.”

Back in Dr Mintz’s office, after all the cotton and dental equipment was extricated from my mouth I thanked him for his kind words about my gums. Now brimming with confidence, I ventured a question about the state of my teeth.

“Well, David. No cavities or anything, but…well, your teeth look like what they are: old.”

Be well,
David Edelberg, MD

 

 

 

Leave a Comment


  1. Erin Scott says:

    I am a patient of the wonderful, Dr Casey Kelley! I am from Tennessee and also a dental hygienist of 21 years. Loved your article about gum disease! Educating our society about oral health care is so important. Oral health is so correlated with our overall health. Much more than most realize. Thank you for the information with a natural, holistic approach to treatment!!

  2. Deb S says:

    Oil pulling with coconut oil can also hep get rid of biofilms (plaque) on teeth and promote healthy gums.

  3. Care says:

    Do you use the liquid folic acid on your gum line during the day or just at bedtime? If the answer is during the day – do you reapply after meals?

    Also some of my teeth – the gums have really receded. Will this protocol only work on mild cases?

    Thank you!

  4. Jill says:

    Could you please provide the research linking green tea to healthy gums? Also is there a concern if drinking green tea regularly, but with added sweetener would negate benefits?

  5. Dr E says:

    Hi Care
    Folic acid at bedtime is all you’ll need

    Hi Jill
    If you Google “green tea healthy gums” or “green tea gingivitis” a lot of articles pop up.
    The safest sweetener is xylitol which actually prevents tooth decay

  6. David Bailey, DC says:

    Hi Doc,
    For the past thirty plus years, and when I remember it, I have found ubiquinol to be very effective in promoting healthy gums. Just an aside of course; regardless, your regime sounds like a bulls-eye.

  7. Katharine says:

    I have implants which may be a portal to my circulatory system. How would you advise dealing with this? Would your gum protocol work here too? Or would the toothpaste you recommend work if there is no disease present.

  8. Dr E says:

    Hi Katharine
    The gum protocol and the toothpaste are both fine with implants

  9. Marco says:

    Dr. Edelberg, could you give your opinion about the documentary “The Widowmaker”, which is now available on Netflix?

  10. Dr E says:

    Hi Marco
    I’ll definitely be watching this next weekend. I used to order a lot of heart scans and picked up early heart disease. Unfortunately, the local scanning company, one of the HeartCheck America Centers, had been forced to close for a variety of reasons. However, there was never an issue with quality work and I’m sure they saved the lives of several of my patients

  11. thanks Doc.years back i suffered with gum disease and was told by dentist that gum disease directly affects heart health. have been on peridex for yeara and it is very effective. needs prescription. i believe the benefits outweigh any issues with the chemicals involved.(Chlorhexidine Gluconate) aside from some tooth staining. your thoughts?

  12. Oren says:

    Dr. Edleberg,
    What’s your opinion on Alove vera for Gums ?
    I’ve read that aloe vera heals gums of many diseases. I was actually thinking about using my Aloe vera plant I have. Braking a leaf and appying it directly to my gums. For Periodontal reasons.

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