Update, July 2021: This post was written four years ago. Find out what happened! Read Swishing with salt water reduces gum disease.
I went to the dentist yesterday for an exam and cleaning, five months after my previous visit. The best news is that the pockets that had deepened from using the Waterpik on too high a setting and too much angle have returned to 2s, 3s, and a couple of 4s.
Since that appointment, I returned to flossing and using dental picks, as described in a previous post, Rebuilding tooth enamel after drinking water with lemon. I continued to gently brush my gumlines at a 90 degree angle.
That did the job, except for one tooth. The back part of my upper right back molar has pockets measuring 7 and 8 mm (3 or lower is healthy). It was painful when the hygienist was probing with her tool. On earlier visits it’s been 4 or 5 mm deep, concerning but not dire.
Now it’s dire.
I’ve never had any pockets this deep, and of course they want me to see a periodontist. (Beyond that, the hygienist didn’t have much scraping to do, so my plaque levels are down.)
That appointment is two weeks away. It’s a free consultation in which the periodontist will examine the tooth and tell me my options along with prices. I’m sure one option will be extracting the tooth. Another will be periodontal treatment, which I imagine consists of getting way up in there and scraping out the infected tissues. That sounds painful, costly, and with no way to know whether it will recur. There could be other treatment options too.
Before I left, they took a couple of x-rays of the tooth. It has an old mercury filling in it, probably from when I was in my teens, that looks solid with no decay underneath. (I’ve had some mercury replaced but not all.) The tooth appears to be healthy, so there should be no need for a crown or a root canal. It is not loose.
Neither extraction nor periodontal treatment sounds like something I want to have happen, so I’m researching what I can do. It’s a good tooth with bad pockets on the back side, and I’d like to save it if I can.
The question is, Can I make a difference in two weeks?
Consulting with Dr. Google on “healing gum pockets” led me to Dr. Mercola’s articles. He is clear that a healthy diet supports good dental health, so I’m making sure I’m eating healthily and getting enough of vitamins K2 and D3, minerals calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, and curcumin (turmeric) to support the bone health and reduce the gum inflammation.
He mentions several practices designed to reduce the bad bacteria causing the gum/bone infection:
- Rinsing the mouth with warm salt water several times a day, pulling excess fluid out of the tissue and killing bacteria. I can easily anchor this new habit, attaching it to something I already do (using the bathroom). I’m using Himalayan salt or Real salt for the trace minerals and lack of additives.
- Using warm salt water with an irrigating device. I can use my WaterPik on my gum lines, with extra attention to those pockets with the special tip.
- Irrigating with sanguineria extract from the bloodroot plant. I have not heard of this before. I found a study showing it is effective for gingivitis (but not plaque), and coincidentally the study was two weeks long! I want to get some.
Finding sanguineria extract is something else. The Herb Bar, also in Austin, carries the actual bloodroot herb and cautions that it is strong and can result in poisoning if used improperly. I could consult with an herbalist, but that would take time.
I found a recipe online from a cavity-prone family that makes their own sanguineria mouthwash, but it takes two weeks to make, using bloodroot, vodka, myrrh (a mouth healing herb), and mint for flavor. They sell the herbs as well; add your own vodka. (Interesting story that Viadent mouthwash used to contain sanguineria, but after Colgate bought the company, it no longer did.)
And then of course, there’s Amazon. Based on positive customer reviews (61% gave 5 stars) and shipping time, I’m ordering this one, a bloodroot extract from Eclectic Institute.
Amazon cross-sells (“Frequently Bought Together”), and I was curious about a product Amazon linked with this one, Christopher’s Herbal Tooth and Gum Powder.
I read the reviews — again, 61% were 5 stars, which I interpret that to mean it may not work for everyone, but when it does, it works well.
Some reviewers packed it around a tooth with deep pockets and slept that way with good results. I want to try that. Others brush with it or dip their toothpaste-laden toothbrush in it.
Intriguingly, this Christopher’s brand, formulated by a doctor, has several other remedies for infection, facial beauty, tissue and bone, and many more issues. This is my first encounter.
I shall see how effective these two remedies (along with diet and hygiene) are for healing my deep pocket and restoring lost bone, and will report back after my periodontal visit on Feb. 2.
October 22, 2018: Update on my deep dental pocket. Nothing I tried was able to return the pocket to normal, although I was able to keep it from progressing for a couple of years through diet and supplementation. I was considering going to Mexico for periodontal work.
When I visited my dentist last week, my hygienist suggested laser treatment, which she’s been training in. The laser light goes under the gums and gets rid of any diseased tissue while stimulating the body to make fresh new tissue. It was not painful. I didn’t need or receive any anesthetic or topical analgesic. The two spots in my mouth where she worked were a bit achy and tender for a couple of days. I didn’t take any OTC pain relievers.
You have to use special precautions for no longer than a week after treatment, like not swishing hard, brushing the gums, eating crunchy foods. It feels pretty good right now, and the cost was under $200 for two teeth.
December 4, 2020 update. Well, the laser treatment didn’t heal the pocket. Everything I tried slowed the progression down. To prevent further bone loss, I had the tooth pulled in November 2019. It’s healed up nicely, and my other pockets have gotten smaller.
My new hygienist suggested that rinsing my mouth for one minute with warm salt water after brushing would also reduce pockets by killing bacteria. So I’m doing that. See link at top of this post.