Wouldn’t it be great if gum remedies could be magic elixirs that fixed your gums’ health no matter what else you did or didn’t do? In the real world, cooperating with nature works best. As an integral part of nature, the human species has evolved in adaptation to health-promoting, natural substances. Some of these substances can complement the beneficial practices of tooth and gum care (such as the proper technique of tooth and gum brushing), especially when brought together in a powdered dentifrice of mineral, vitamin and herb ingredients that have a reputation for being acid-neutralizing, cleansing-disinfectants and soothing. These types of ingredients are listed below, and by clicking on any one, you will see a more detailed description of the substance.
This selection of ingredients is taken from the formula for the natural care dental product, Good-Gums natural dentifrice. Of course, there’s more to a formula than just a list of its ingredients. But information about them may give you some insight both into beneficial natural substances as well as into Good-Gums.
Click on the links below to see the characteristics of each ingredient. They are natural and without chemical additives because we don’t want to put toxic residues into our bodies nor put toxic byproducts into the environment. They are dry ingredients because they can better retain their potency without the need to add chemical preservatives.
Baking soda has for many decades been used for tooth care practices, such as tooth brushing, either by itself, in combination with salt or with other ingredients in a dentifrice. It has been selected by Isabelle, the creator of Good-Gums, as a principal ingredient of Good-Gums powdered dentifrice.
Baking soda is an excellent natural dental care product. The primary virtues of baking soda are that it neutralizes acids and that it acts as a very good cleanser and deodorizer. Baking soda is nontoxic and mild enough for the soft tissues of the gums, tongue and mouth. It’s one of the least abrasive cleansers on tooth enamel, much less than the silicas or dicalcium phosphates that are common to many toothpastes. Baking soda neutralizes odors and bad tastes, instead of just covering them up with a stronger scent and taste. Odors from strong acids like sour milk or from strong bases like spoiled fish are weakened by being neutralized by the natural buffering action of baking soda. The buffering action also helps maintain a stable pH balance in the mouth.
Baking soda also neutralizes Volatile Sulfur Compounds, which are primarily responsible for bad breath (mouth odor). Clinical studies show that VSCs are highly toxic, even at low concentrations, and studies are underway to determine their involvement in gum health issues. VSCs tend to congregate in the gum pockets, especially as pockets get deeper, where anaerobes can proliferate and produce VSCs.
Isabelle recommends that the dissolved solution of Good-Gums be held in the mouth briefly after brushing, as this may help the solution reach further into the gum pockets where it may help neutralize the VSCs there. At this point, this connection must legally be considered only a conjecture, since we currently lack a clinical study specifically validating the interaction of Good-Gums with the microbes and VSCs found in gum pockets.
Another virtue of the natural dental care product, baking soda is that it helps remove stains on the surface and in the tiny crevices of teeth. So if you drink coffee, tea, wine or even smoke, baking soda may help improve your teeth’s appearance.
Cinnamon improves taste and aroma, in addition to being antimicrobial and a modest pain reliever. The inner bark is the part of the plant from which either the powder or the more concentrated oil is derived, and is the only part approved for use as a medicinal herb by the prestigious German Commission E.
Cinnamon has properties that are antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal, and slightly anesthetic, which can be beneficial for sore tissues. The oil and bark have been traditional folk remedies for many years. For example, the oil was listed as part of the household inventory of herbal medicines in 1834 of Maryland’s Homewood House, built by one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. It has historically been used to numb teeth and gums, including the gums of teething infants. Cinnamon is also considered one of the most concentrated sources of antioxidants.
Cinnamon is not only a natural dental care product, other traditional applications for cinnamon (other than for the teeth, gums and mouth) address the digestive process, including indigestion, loss of appetite, bloating, and flatulence.
The ingredients of Good-Gums® contain parts of plants (such as leaves, bark, fruit pulp, skins and sap) that can start to decompose over time in a wet environment. So Good-Gums® is produced as a dry powder to help the ingredients retain their potency longer and be fresh until it is used.
Cranberry has the property of preventing the biological adhesion of microbes to mucous membranes, such as the urinary tract, stomach, and gums. The anti-adhesion property of cranberries stem from its proanthocyanidins, a type of flavonoid with high antioxidant properties but with a unique structure not found in most other fruits and vegetables. It’s the bacterial anti-adhesion property that makes cranberry so effective for urinary tract infections.
It’s not just the structure of cranberry’s antioxidants that’s unusual. Cranberries also are packed with unusually high levels of antioxidants, having five times the concentration found in broccoli and the highest level among 20 common fruits and vegetables. When ingested by itself, the high level of antioxidants are thought to be beneficial for reductions in cholesterol, heart disease, and stroke.
For thousands of years, wild cranberries provided Eskimos and Laplanders (the Sami people) with high concentrations of plant nutrients that are otherwise hard to find or to grow in the northern latitudes. While they could derive proteins, fats, and many vitamins from the flesh of seals, caribou, birds, and from eggs they hunted, some nutrients would be lacking. Fortunately, nature provided them with cranberry, which has rightly been called a “super fruit” because of its high levels of antioxidants, vitamin C, and other trace elements.
Most commonly cranberry is ingested in the U.S. and Europe as juice, but the producers typically add sugar, offsetting some of the beneficial effects of the fruit. The Good Gums formula includes cranberry but does not include any sugar.
French Grey Sea Salt
Dentists often recommend a mixture of baking soda and salt for cleaning teeth. The combination is a traditional tooth cleanser that has stood the test of time for over a century. But when you brush or floss, more than cleaning is going on. While the teeth are being cleaned, the gums are also absorbing whatever is in the cleansing mixture. Even in this regard, salt is considered so beneficial that dentists commonly recommend salt rinses following tooth extractions or other oral surgery.
Now a lot of people think that all salt is the same. But when we select the salt (along with the other natural nutrients) that you’ll be ingesting when you brush with Good-Gums, we specify a specific type of sea salt instead of inexpensive table salt, because all salt is not the same.
Mineral rich sea water is often considered the closest thing in nature to human blood (so much so that it was successfully used in emergency transfusions by Navy doctors in World War II when blood and plasma weren’t available.) If sea salt has not been refined, it can be reconstituted into its mineral rich solution by water or by the moisture of saliva or food. Ordinary table salt cannot. The producers of refined salt extract many trace minerals from the salt and sell the minerals as nutritional additives to the manufacturers of processed “fortified” foods, before selling the depleted salt. That’s one reason table salt is so inexpensive; it’s been reduced to being a byproduct that’s nearly nutrient-free after having had up to 90 essential minerals extracted and then having aluminosilicate of sodium or yellow prussiate of soda added as desiccants as well as bleaches. The resulting refined salt then winds up with a higher sodium content than unrefined sea salt.
Dissolved sea salt-especially mineral rich sea salt-allows liquids to pass through the body’s membranes and blood vessels’ walls. The trace elements are required for cells to control their ion equilibrium, which is necessary for the cells’ functioning, growth and regeneration. Refined salt does not allow the proper passage of fluids and minerals, leading to a buildup on one side of a membrane and to a lack on the other and to cells becoming out of balance.
Dr. Albert Schweitzer said that his hospital in Gabon, founded in 1913, had no cancer cases for decades, as it was rare among Africans until the importation of European foods, especially refined salt. “It is obvious to connect the fact of increase of cancer with the increased use of salt by the natives. In former years there was only available the little salt extracted from the ocean.”
With salt and its trace elements being so important, Good-Gums® incorporates what we consider to be the best sea salt in the world as a natural dental care product for Isabelle’s formula. It is Celtic sea salt known as grey sea salt harvested from Brittany in France facing the Celtic Sea, a section of the Atlantic Ocean that’s considered particularly clean. The sea water is introduced into shallow pools of mineral rich clay (and not into cement-lined ponds). As the brine evaporates in the sun, salt crystals form about 6 inches below the surface, with a distinctive grey color from the healthful minerals and nutrients of the ocean and of the beds’ clay bottom. The resulting salt is so pure that no further processing is necessary, and is certified organic by the French organization Nature et Progres, which is one of the founding organizations of International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).
Myrrh is widely considered to be one of the most effective substances for sore gums by herbalists and by practitioners of Chinese medicine. Even in the west it is renowned for its astringent and antiseptic properties as well as for promoting healing.
It is so antiseptic that it was used for embalming and mummifying Egyptian Pharaohs; ancient Greek soldiers would carry it into battle to treat wounds and prevent gangrene. As an astringent and healing agent, it was considered more valuable than gold during the storied time when the Magi brought it after the birth of Jesus.
Myrrh is the resin of a prickly bush (commiphora molmol) that grows up to nine feet tall in the arid Horn of Africa and southern Arabian Peninsula. A little bit goes a long way, so usable quantities could be carried by donkeys, camels and other pack animals along ancient trade routes that fanned out from the Middle East. Its healing powers made it prized by royalty, nobles and wealthier people from Greece to India. Cultivation has extended its growth range, and it’s estimated that current stocks of the plants are enough to fill the world’s demand for myrrh.
In addition to its antiseptic, antimicrobial and astringent properties, it has used by people wishing to stimulate circulation in mucous membrane tissue (which includes the gums). It has historically been used by itself for swollen or spongy gums as well as for canker sores, sore throats and sinus infections.
Peppermint has historically been considered a mild-acting herbal medicine (phytomedicine), and its leaves have been used as a folk remedy for centuries to relieve pain around a tooth and to improve swollen gums. It has a calming and numbing effect due to the high menthol content of its oil. And, of course, peppermint adds a touch of soothing flavor and a bit of minty scent.
In the western hemisphere, peppermint is sometimes called the world’s oldest medicine. Peppermint is believed to inhibit the growth of some strains of bacteria as well as viruses. It’s high in vitamin C (see the section on vitamin C) and vitamin A, and contains numerous nutrient trace elements, such as iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and copper.
Peppermint seems to have the ability to be absorbed by the skin, perhaps accounting for reports of pain relief from headaches and insect bites after topical application of its oil. Absorption takes place even more readily through the mucous membranes, such as the absorptive tissues of the gums, stomach and intestines. Historically, peppermint leaf has been ingested for relief from irritable bowel syndrome and its vapors inhaled for nausea, indigestion and congestion.
Vitamin-C & citrus bioflavonoids
There’s a strong connection between vitamin C and healthy gums. And there’s also a strong connection between bioflavonoids and how well vitamin C is absorbed. Both are prominent ingredients of Good-Gums natural powdered dentifrice.
Vitamin C helps the lining of the gums (epithelium) stay healthy despite the bacteria that inhabit the mouth. Healthy gums isolate the bacteria from the roots of the teeth despite their close proximity. When bacteria start to penetrate the gums, through tiny lesions or weakened lining, it is within the gums that the immune system fights to eradicate the harmful bacteria and to ensure the health of both the gums as well as the underlying tooth-supporting ligaments and bone.
Vitamin C is key to the processes of cell growth, healing and repair of tissue. It’s necessary for the production of collagen, the basic protein that makes up all connective tissue, including that of the gums and of the periodontal ligaments that help the gums stay tight to the teeth and the teeth to the jawbone. All creatures need vitamin C.
The bodies of almost all animals (and plants as well) can convert glucose into vitamin C, but not the simians (the higher primates including humans). Humans have to ingest what most animals make for themselves. Interestingly, animals internally produce a lot more vitamin C when their health is under attack. For example, a goat is about the same weight as a human and when healthy produces about 13,000 mg of vitamin C a day. But when under stress by infection or toxins, the goat produces more than eight times its normal amount of vitamin C. When there’s a localized bacterial infection in humans, there’s also an increased need for vitamin C.
Because vitamin C is water soluble, it must be either used or lost in urine. It cannot be stored in the body and must be ingested daily. It can take 33 or more times the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) before there’s too much vitamin C for the digestive tract to comfortably process, and this would lead only to indigestion, not to any vitamin toxicity. The RDA is based on the trace amount needed for normal metabolic functioning. Too little is considered less than the minimal amount needed to prevent obvious maladies, such as gingivitis, anemia, swollen joints or scurvy. The RDA is 60 mg for an adult. But the much larger amounts that the body can use to achieve optimal health are not part of that equation. Most simians, following their own natural instincts and inclinations, consume 10 to 20 times the RDA established for humans. Some authorities recommend much higher levels of intake than the RDA: the Linus Pauling institute recommends 400 mg; the Vitamin C Foundation 3,000 mg.
A significant percentage of the US population doesn’t even consume enough vitamin C to reach the RDA’s low standard of malady-avoidance, not to mention the higher standard of health optimization. A study by the University of Arizona found that 5-15% suffered from vitamin C deficiency and 13-23% from vitamin C depletion. The percentage who’d gain health benefits from increased levels of vitamin C could of course be much, much higher.
Lack of vitamin C causes gum swelling and loose teeth. A 14 week study at the University of California San Francisco showed that when vitamin C intake was decreased, gums bled more; when it was increased, gum bleeding decreased. In another study, people who got less than the minimum daily amount of vitamin C had higher rates of periodontal disease than those who got the minimum, and they had three times the chance of gum disease than those who received three times the recommended amount of vitamin C.
Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, who won the Nobel Prize for discovering and studying vitamin C, believed that vitamin C is needed for the body to maintain the essential characteristic of living cells, the ability to exchange electrons with other molecules and cells. He believed that the flow of electrons between cells constituted a form of biological electricity by which the functioning of cells is regulated. He stressed that the molecules of live tissue have a slight lack of electrons, in order to facilitate the biological flow of electrons. He also believed that the flow of electrons creates subtle magnetic fields that the body uses in maintaining its health. Dead tissue on the other hand have the more chemically stable configuration in which molecules have no lack of electrons, and therefore no flow of electrical energy. Vitamin C is thought to facilitate electron exchanges in the body by interacting with chemicals in virtually all the cells to maintain the slight deficit of electrons.
If gums are healthy and diet is good, the blood will replenish the gums’ vitamin C. But when under stress, what is commonly considered adequate blood levels of vitamin C might not be enough. Normally, healthy cells have a greater concentration of vitamin C than the blood does. But measurements of vitamin C are customarily taken only from the blood, so even when adequate levels of vitamin C show up in the blood, there may be a need for more in the tissue itself when it’s under stress.
Bioflavonoids are thought to significantly enhance the absorption of Vitamin C, and possibly to prolong the effectiveness when they are combined together. Like vitamin C, the bioflavonoid nutrient is not made by the body and so has to be ingested. Unlike vitamin C, it’s not so critical a nutrient that people can die from lack of it. Its value almost always comes from working with vitamin C, although it has also been associated with maintaining the walls of blood vessels to prevent bruising and bleeding.