Almost half of all Americans live with gum disease, and this statistic is very disheartening. Proper oral healthcare can prevent gum disease, removing damaging plaque and destroying the bacteria responsible for causing infection and inflammation in the mouth.
While the toothpaste you use will undoubtedly play a role in preventing or managing gum disease, it’s merely one facet of a much larger picture. How often you use your toothpaste, the way you brush your teeth, flossing, diet, lifestyle, and many other factors play a role in your risk for gum disease.
Are you sure you’re taking care of your mouth properly?
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease usually presents in one of two forms. While both are serious, only one can be reversible. Catching and treating gingivitis is crucially important. Failing to recognize the signs and make meaningful changes can lead to a much more complicated case of periodontitis.
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease, but it’s still serious. Gingivitis is loosely characterized by redness, mild swelling, or inflammation of the gums where they connect to the teeth. Although your gums look as though they’re snugly attached to your teeth, they aren’t. There’s a very small gap between your gums and your teeth that you’ll usually never be able to detect.
This small gap can accumulate plaque and tartar just like the rest of your teeth. Bacteria can build up just underneath the surface of the gums and become difficult to remove. If bacteria is promptly managed and plaque is fully removed, gingivitis can resolve on its own.
Your dentist will be able to spot gingivitis in its early stages, even if you aren’t experiencing noteworthy symptoms. Early intervention can reverse gingivitis before it becomes a problem. Staying on top of your oral health care regimen will prevent gingivitis from coming back.
Gingivitis that isn’t properly treated in a timely manner can become periodontitis, and periodontitis has far more sinister implications.
Periodontitis occurs when unmanaged irritation or bacterial infection of the gums begins to destroy the tissue. In serious cases, bacteria can lead to bone loss in the jaw. When the soft tissue of the gums degrades and the bone is weakened by infection, many people with periodontitis find that their gums recede until their tooth roots become completely visible. From that point, many teeth will loosen and fall out.
Gums with periodontitis often hurt and bleed. Tooth sensitivity skyrockets. Hot or cold foods can send surges of pain all the way through the jaw. Chewing can become difficult.
People with severe periodontitis may require surgical intervention. Dentists can attempt to salvage the health of the mouth by managing the source of the infection and using gum grafts or tissue membranes to encourage the growth and recovery of tissue. Advanced periodontitis may require the removal of damaged bone and bone grafting to restore the health of the jaw.
Periodontitis can, in some severe cases, require extraction of all or most of the teeth. The infection that causes periodontitis can also spread outside of the mouth. Your gum tissue and the tissue membranes under your tongue allow the bacteria to rapidly enter your bloodstream without being processed by your body.
This bacteria can lead to severe respiratory illness, heart disease, issues with blood sugar management, and even arthritis. Periodontitis can affect your entire body.
Does Toothpaste Kill Bacteria?
It is a common misconception that toothpaste is designed to kill bacteria. That was never the purpose of toothpaste.
Mouthwash is designed to kill bacteria, but that’s a completely different step of your oral care routine that isn’t without a few problematic complications of its own.
What Toothpaste is Designed To Do
Think about a house infested by bugs. Would you rather attempt to catch these bugs and toss them outside, or would you rather spray for bugs to end the infestation? In this scenario, the house is your mouth and the bugs are bad oral bacteria.
Toothpaste is designed to help remove bacteria, rather than destroying it.
It’s essentially impossible to remove all of something you cannot see. You’re essentially hoping that toothpaste has removed enough bacteria to prevent plaque and gum disease without any real proof or assurance that it’s done a sufficient job.
The Triclosan Controversy
For a while, triclosan toothpastes were popular. Triclosan is a controversial antibacterial ingredient that the FDA is never happy to deal with. Research showed that triclosan was minimally effective at killing oral bacteria and that it may cause more problems than it solves.
These studies made the FDA change their position on triclosan soaps and oral care products, requiring that manufacturers who wish to use triclosan as an ingredient pass numerous tests and evaluations before their products are allowed to go to market. The FDA rarely approves these products, and when they do, they do it begrudgingly.
Environmental protection agencies want to ban triclosan altogether. It quickly accumulates in water, converting into chloroform when it comes into contact with chlorine. It destroys groundwater and natural bodies of water when it’s released into the environment or the public water supply. Triclosan is dangerous, and it’s wise to avoid putting dangerous chemicals in your mouth.
Does Mouthwash Kill Bacteria?
Mouthwash does kill bacteria. Mouthwash kills everything. That’s the problem.
Mouthwash uses alcohol to sanitize the mouth. If you have gingivitis or the beginnings of gum disease, you might notice that mouthwash hurts. The alcohol in mouthwash stings, dries out, and further irritates sore gums in its quest to kill oral bacteria.
In addition to killing bad bacteria, mouthwash will kill good bacteria. It wipes out your entire oral microbiome, and it has no way of discriminating between the bacteria that cause gum disease and the probiotic bacteria your body uses to keep itself properly balanced.
If you’re losing all the good in conjunction with the bad, is the tradeoff really worth it?
How Do I Destroy Bad Bacteria in My Mouth?
There are very few antibacterial ingredients that are safe to use in your mouth and effective at killing bad oral bacteria without destroying helpful probiotic bacteria and your mouth’s natural biofilm. Silver nanoparticles are one of very few ingredients that is safe and approved for that purpose.
Silver nanoparticles are very small particles of silver with specially coated silver oxide cores. The cores of the particle steal thousands of electrons away from bacteria cell walls, causing the cells to implode and rendering them useless. These destroyed bacteria cells become porous, soaking up more silver and using it to destroy the bacteria they come into contact with.
If you accidentally ingest some nano silver from your nano silver toothpaste or mouthwash, it can safely and harmlessly pass through your system in about 24 hours. There are no toxic effects and it cannot be converted to a dangerous chemical in the way that triclosan can.
Nano Silver Toothpaste and Mouthwash
Look for a toothpaste infused with nano silver, tooth-strengthening ingredients, and ingredients to help manage inflammation of the gums. Goldenseal, panax ginseng, and gingko biloba are natural plant extracts that work to combat inflammation of the gums as well as act as antioxidants.
Mouthwash containing nano silver can be used in conjunction with nano silver toothpaste. Think of it as a “belt and suspenders” policy. If you miss anything when you brush, the nano silver in the mouthwash will provide a second sweep to eliminate any bacteria that remain.
Antibacterial, inflammation-soothing toothpaste should always be accompanied by proper flossing. Mouthwash and your toothbrush cannot fully dislodge bacteria and food particles caught between the teeth. These need to be removed with floss. Once the areas are clear, mouthwash can do an excellent job of killing any bacteria that may be left behind.
People with gingivitis often have sensitive gums. Traditional floss may cause the gums to bleed, and flossing might be painful. If you have difficulty using string floss, try a water flosser. Water flossing devices are gentle and effective. If you load them with warm water, you might find that they relieve the soreness and mild swelling in your gums.
Toothpaste is one of many things you need to prevent gum disease or reverse gingivitis. There isn’t a single product that will fix all of your woes.
You need to be willing to spend time keeping your mouth clean twice a day, every day. Failing to properly eliminate bacteria or allowing plaque to accumulate in your mouth will lead to gum disease, no matter what toothpaste you’re using. Your oral health is worth taking a few minutes a day.