Periodontal disease (aka, Gum Disease, Gingivitis, Periodontitis) – is a condition that has been traditionally attributed to plaque buildup. There is redness, swelling, bleeding, and sometimes loss of the ability to maintain bone structure. While there is truth in the standard descriptions, I suggest there is something basic underlying most conditions of this type – a cause if you will.

Poor oral hygiene can certainly be attributed to increased infection rates, followed by swelling and gums that pull away from the teeth. But, what about people who practice good basic hygiene yet still suffer from repeated bouts of gum disease? Are they unlucky or could something else be the cause?

First, a brief story:

About ten years ago I was attending a pharmacy conference in Texas. A friend sat next to me and I noticed a white spot on his lip and I mentioned it. He wiped it away and said something like, “Darn, that’s some dried toothpaste. Now, I’ll be getting a cold sore there.” Sure enough, his prediction came true later that day. While there is a chance that he “willed” himself to have a cold sore, I think his initial prediction about the toothpaste is a more likely reason.

Toothpaste, and many other cleansing products, contain sodium lauryl sulfate (also sodium laureth sulfate, and sodium lauryl ether sulfate – SLES). These are cheap detergents that clean well. They are also very irritating. If they are potent enough to harm the tissue of the lip they can also hurt and inflame the even more sensitive tissue inside the mouth.

A logical move would be to avoid all products that contain those detergents, but that is more difficult than it seems. Those chemical detergents are practically everywhere, especially in commercial dental products. That means we must look at other cleaning methods. In my research I found many references to using plain soap as a tooth cleaner. I also found references to baking soda and mixtures that contain ground bark (IPSAB, for example).

After experimenting with soaps I realized that I did not have any tooth film on my teeth in the morning when I used soap that didn’t have any added glycerin. All soaps naturally contain small amounts of glycerin. Brushing with plain Ivory soap left my teeth clean and film free in the morning after only one use. As an experiment I switched back to regular commercial toothpaste for one night and found the film had returned the next day. My answer to clean teeth and no irritation seemed to be regular soap.

Tooth Foam:
There is something unpleasant about using a bar of soap that’s been resting in a dish in the bathroom. As a more sanitary alternative we found a company that sells shredded soap in a jar. This worked, but it often became rancid smelling before the jar was fully used. We experimented in our lab and came up with a liquid soap that we dispense in a small pumper. One pump places the right amount of Tooth Foam on the brush – and replacing the cap maintains cleanliness.

The foam is peppermint flavored and we’re working on other flavors as well as unflavored. If a user doesn’t get the soap too far back on the tongue, the normal soap taste isn’t a bother. Even if it is slightly unconventional tasting, the results are dramatic. Teeth are clean. They stay clean. Best of all, their level of irritation, swelling, and bleeding decreases dramatically.

A final advantage to Tooth Foam is that there is no fluoride – another harmful chemical that is unnecessary in daily tooth cleaning. When fluoride is necessary it is best applied by a dentist.

Peri Gum:
There’s another measure a person with recurring gum disease could use – a mouth wash with pepper in it. Peri Gum comes in a small dropper bottle. Instructions are to rinse and hold in mouth for about 20 seconds – after brushing. The user should also not rinse with water after using. Eating and drinking anything for 30 minutes afterwards is also discouraged.

And, finally, we come to my favorite treatment for all chronic conditions. It cures some and mitigates others. It is the daily use of a probiotic. Everyone, regardless of age, gender, or physical condition, should be taking 15 billion or more units of a good probiotic every day. This is not a joke, nor is it marketing hype. Our environment – coupled with all of the drugs we all seem to be consuming – wreaks havoc on our digestion. Many of us fail to absorb the nutrients we need to stay healthy. If you do anything, take a probiotic every day.