I have a relative following paleo who has severe gingivitis. She's been doing paleo 80/20 for about 8 months and while it has gotten better, her gums still bleed when flossing. I suspect that her "cheats" and some relatively sugary/acidic drinks (coconut water, kombucha) she consumes are the main problem. Does anyone have any experience eliminating this?
I posted an answer to a similar question regarding gum disease here. (Read that first before returning to the rest of this answer.)
I'm glad that the Sonicare toothbrush worked for Eva and others but it made my gums worse. The Sonicare brush is very abrasive and my gum recession and tooth sensitivity accelerated during the year that I used it. For the past two years I have been using a Rotadent which is also in the $100 - $130 price range (check Amazon or eBay) and have had much better results.
To the OP, your family member needs to have a deep cleaning done, whether she's doing paleo or not. Once there is calculus/tartar below the gumline the bacteria that cause gingivitis cling and hide there and evade treatment. It's like a secure bunker for them. If her gingival pockets are more than 5mm deep even an oral irrigator like a WaterPik on full blast won't be able to reach the bacteria down there which live in a biofilm that requires mechanical disruption. Point being, make sure she is starting off with a clean slate.
I started off with my worst pockets being more than 10mm deep. Now with treatment (LANAP and every 3 month cleanings) plus a lacto-paleo PaNu-like diet my worst pockets are 4-5 on bad checkups and 3-4 on good checkups. I have no bleeding, not even during cleanings. It seems to depend a lot on my stress levels over the preceding 3 months. Severe gum disease has a strong auto-immune quality to it and it is the body's inflammation reaction to the bacteria that cause all the tissue destruction, not the bacteria themselves.
For most people, paleo or not, severe gum disease (gingivitis / periodontitis) is a chronic condition. You will never get rid of the bacteria entirely and they start rebuilding their biofilm fortress the moment you leave the hygienist's chair. The cure would be in reprogramming your immune system so it doesn't go nuclear in response to the bacteria. By starving the bacteria of their favorite food (carbs) and modulating the immune system through Vitamin D, K2 and Omega-3 normalization, paleo will help a lot and for many, seemingly cure the condition. Diligent brushing and flossing still remain necessary for most of us as well, unless we're Richard Nikoley.
It's classic scurvy! You have to check the whole chain of nutrients that supports C absorption. Check K-2. Check all the B's, including Folic Acid and B-12. Check boron, D, magnesium and calcium. Then check C.
My first suspicion with this kind of thing is always sweets, but any carbs will be too much if the person isn't absorbing C.
One way this can happen is taking a wrong form of A, like retinol. The A in cod liver oil, for instance, or retinol in some other multi-vitamin or skin cream. Retinol antagonizes D. With D not absorbing, calcium and magnesium will not be absorbed, so C can't be absorbed.
Good luck. Tell her it is not her fault.
Check out the oil pulling method: http://www.oilpulling.com/ Flossing and brushing just aggravate my gums, so I only brush once a day, floss once every couple days. Oil pulling helped a lot. It actually dissolved hard plaque around the gumlines without having to brush or floss it out.
Is she taking probiotics? You can get some probiotics to use for mouth health as well, you dissolve a lozenge under your tongue and swish it around.
OK, this is totally not a paleo solution, and I would advise attempting to guess why her gums are so bad anyway, but one thing that has totally helped for all my family are Sonicare tooth brushes. My mother's dentist told her about that product and I was skeptical at first, but I did my research and was satisfied and so I shelled out for one and there was a dramatic improvement in my gums which had been bad all my life. The vibration in uniquely formulated to strengthen gums and teeth. Valid research is behind it and it is not just BS marketing. The vibration also loosens plaque. (no I have no stake in the company whatsoever other than my respect for someone who puts out something that actually works as advertised for once) WHen you first use the toothbrush, the vibration is sometimes uncomfortable for the first few days until your gums strengthen, so there is a special muted/damped down mode on the brush so you can get accustomed to it first. After a while using Sonicare, my gums went from bad and inflamed to normal and healthy. The only downside to these brushes is they are a bit expensive.
I like paleo but if there is a neolithic mechanism that is safe and good for me and really works without any negative side effects, then I will certainly use it. Of course, I suggest trying natural approaches as well, but even those in the paleo sometimes suffered from tooth abcesses and other problems so I don't mind using a bit of neolithic help to smooth my travels from time to time. Many of my friends now use SOnicare. Many have used other electronic toothbrushes in the past, but only Sonicare has made visible and drastic improvements in gum health for the people I know who have tried it. I do not like to use a lot of electronic crap in my life, I even still use an old fashioned handheld can opener, but Sonicare and the internet are two things that I stand by happily.
I didn't have gingivitis but after I started eating Paleo and supplementing with cod liver and butter oil, my dentist remarked on how good my gums looked and how much they had improved.
Cannot tease out if cod liver and butter oil were the causation per se - or simply higher sat fat content and lower carbage content of diet.
My gums,teeth and tartar have all improved. Interestingly and aproˈpo of nothing, when Dr. Weston A. Price examined early HG tribes he generally found perfect teeth despite no teeth cleaning or flossing. They were a bit green but had no sign of decay or disease. Just sayin.
Dip your brush in blue listerine first then put tooth paste on it. Brush gently-I also have recession which my dentist blames on brushing to vigorously.he told me to get sonicare,which I had been using for years,so maybe he has no idea what he's talking about.anyway,after brushing ,rinse with water,then rinse with the blue listerine. Then floss. If you put down plaque easily like I do even being paleo, don't let two days go by without flossing or it can turn into the hard stuff which I get off with a toothpick (which I guess is fairly sterile since it comes individually wrapped).
I had sore gums the entire first two motnhs I was on the paleo diet. I couldn't figure it out, because some days it seemed worse than others. I finally made a dentist appointment and told him about my change in diet. He asked if I had been eating a lot of zucchini, because he has several patient's with an allergy to zucchini that manifests as sore/irritated/bleeding gums. Mine would get so bad sometimes that my teeth would feel loose.
Apparently it is called oral allergy syndrome.
Here's my gum disease story. I was on paleo for a while with a few cheating episodes here and there. My carb intake was extremely low and I never flossed. Gums were fine. About five months ago I gave in to my daughters wanting more carbs. I decided to start making them some rice dishes or letting them have crackers. Then I started eating these things as well.
I eventually noticed itchy gums. I wanted to grind my teeth all the time and probably did in my sleep. I chewed gum constantly. The gums kept getting worse - receding, inflamation, etc. The dentist put me on antibiotics to prepare for a root canal (nerve was damaged not tooth, possibly from braces as a kid) and after several days my gums felt much better. My tooth with the nerve damage no longer hurt when I tapped it. I thought it was the antibiotics but then my gums took a severe nose dive. This went back and forth for a while. I eventually realized that my gums got better because I went back to zero carbs, then I would cheat and they would get worse. Just to test my theory I ate a bowl of cereal one day and by the end of the day my gums were much worse. My total carbs that day were less than 100 but it had a noticeable impact. After a full day of no carbs my gums are so much better. I am hoping to be able to not cheat during Thanksgiving to see if I can skip the root canal. I love the drumstick so maybe that will fill me up. I truly hope anyone with gum/tooth problems will at least try no carbs for a few days just to see what happens.
Seth Roberts found that taking flax seed oil got rid of his gum disease. I've noticed it also works with fish oil. One drawback- these oils oxidize rather easily. Seth started eating flax seed once he got to China and found they don't always refrigerate their flax oil. If you get a bottle of rancid flax or fish oil, it actually makes the symptoms return with vengeance. It can be confusing if you are taking gel-caps and can't taste the oil. Now, after reading some of Ray Peat's stuff, I am trying to figure out what accounts for the observed good effects of taking some form of Omega-3s versus the really bad idea of eating highly reactive PUFAs.