Having an inflammatory disease and using medications that suppress your immune system is like a double whammy. But this info can help the non-disease challenged as well, it’s how I discovered all this & formulated a system.
Inside your mouth, problems are compounded by a lot of naturally occurring bacteria, as well as food breaking down into more bacteria (bonus points if you still have your tonsils, because they are little evil collection pockets for bacteria). Add to that, the insult of having to scrub your gums and/or tongue on a daily basis multiple times with brushes, harsh chemicals, then working a thin piece of floss
razor wire in between your teeth that just injures your gums in all sorts of ways, sooo, you have a recipe for a lot of pain and inflammation that we could really just do without. AmIRight ?
Of course it is a catch 22 situation because you need to keep meticulous oral hygiene more than ever, when you have an inflammation autoimmune disease. Gum disease can really blow up into something very serious for the immune compromised or inflammation prone & we can’t just have surgery, oral or otherwise at the drop of a hat (nor do we want to). Not to mention the expense of dental work, on top of all the other dollars we already spend on medical by having these diseases. However some of the conventional ways that we take for granted to maintain this hygiene, can also cause problems for many & it’s surprisingly not common knowledge.
So, how to make the best of it, is a question I don’t think enough of us contemplate, until we’re really sick of having canker sores, oral thrush, constantly inflamed gums, sometimes so bad that we can’t eat properly or need painful visits to the dentist that can make us miserable or even be dangerous, especially with heart disease linked to gum disease.
Skip to the bottom dot points if you just want the solution to try, read on if you’re after useful info that you can possibly use to extrapolate the logic into other things you use, that may be doing more harm than good.
So we have an awesome dentist and hygienist who treats both me with rheumatoid autoimmune disease and the lovely Sjogren’s Syndrome (which causes dry EVERYTHING, just to complicate it all) and my 100% perfectly healthy husband. Our hygienist gave him some unusual advice, (not me for a change). She noticed he was having constantly sore and raw gums for really no reason that any of us could fathom given how dedicated he is to his oral hygiene and our organic fanatic, chemical free, clean eating and living lifestyle.
She asked him what toothpaste he was using and told him to switch to a different brand (she said her own husband had the same problem). He, like most guys, didn’t remember the details of why she said to do this (at least he now actually goes to the dentist twice a year but that took some doing), so I went and asked her out of curiosity a little while later because, it actually worked for him. He has much better gums and about zero soreness and raw spots in his mouth & it happened quite quickly. Turns out big name toothpastes are loaded with Sodium Lauryl Sulfates in particular, as well as artificial sweeteners (chemical junk), too much fluoride, microbeads, sometimes phthalates, parabens, other nasties, but the biggest culprit here is the Sodium Lauryl Sulfates.
I then took on board what she had told us and took it even a little further and I just had a better rated 6 month checkup of my teeth, gums & mouth than I’ve had in the last 10 years. I’ve also had 5 blissful months free of inflamed gums, canker sores, ulcers, oral thrush or really any oral problem that used to plague me so much.
If you want to give it a try, here’s what I did. I have no affiliation with any of the brands I mention below, it’s just what I found acceptable to me & have used.
- Ditch your current toothpaste for one that is SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) FREE & Flouride Free. Studies have shown SLS’s can damage oral tissue, strip the skin in your mouth & gums if you’re sensitive, allergic or overexposed & can cause stomach probs if you swallow too much of it. We know it’s terrible for your hair & scalp and used in that or body wash can be bad for skin, causing contact eczema, dryness, flaking scalp/skin etc, it’s just rotten stuff, try eliminate it from ALL your personal care products. I use Kiss my Face & Toms of Maine brands (bonus, includes natural Xylitol that helps with dry mouth), but I’ve included a toothpaste list below. NOTE: Not all SLS-Free toothpaste brands make ALL their different toothpastes SLS free, so always read the label. Fluoride free because it’s just another chemical you don’t need more of that can also cause oral tissue & stomach issues.
- Stop using floss. Yep, invest in a water flosser. This does 2 things, it’s easier on your creaky fingers and hands than using floss and stops cutting/hurting your gums, plus water flossing gets out more gunk, seriously. You don’t need a fancy expensive one, but one with a dial for intensity is nice to be able to turn down on days you’re sensitive. We have Waterpiks, but there are a few brands and range from about $15 for a basic travel, battery one-speed to $90 for one that should clean your bathroom afterwards, but I’m not paying that to find out. We bought a 2-fer kit (packaged as a Deluxe and a basic travel one) at Costco with a coupon. I got the fancier one with the dial, hubs got the basic and we’re both loving them.
- Stop using harsh chemical loaded mouth wash & when you get a gentler one, add a few capfuls to your water flosser tank. Too many bad things about big brand commercial mouthwash, but suffice to say, it’s hard on your mouth, lips, skin and stomach. Stop using it altogether if you don’t have autoimmune or inflammation problems, you shouldn’t need it if you do step 1 & 2.. a mint will do to freshen your breath if you need it at other times. For me, I find Natures Answer Perio Wash or PerioClear (organic) are both great. Both SLS free, fluoride free, no alcohol, nothing harsh, just natural botanicals that are geared toward balancing bacteria in your mouth, not nuking them, both contain xylitol and/or CoQ10 as well for natural moisture.
- Sonic Toothbrush. Let the toothbrush do the work and save your joints. They really are better at removing junk from your teeth and far gentler (oddly) than manual brushing. You don’t need one that costs a fortune, and factor in replacement heads when shopping for one… how much are they (because you really do need to change them every 3-5 months to be effective) and how easy replacements are to get (tip, write the replacement head number in your health book… health book?? Yep, more about that in another post or on a sticky note in your bathroom cabinet). Be wary generic replacement heads in bulk, some work great on some brands, some not so much, so make sure you can return easily if they’re duds. I would have recommended the Philips Sonicare HX6212 we both bought early this year, replacing some 6 year old cheapo ones we had that were breaking apart, but I see they jumped from $39.99 to $98 !! on Amazon, yikes. So the Philips SonicareHX6211 looks to be the same one, just not the carry case or extra heads, at $59 and has a $10 off coupon on Amazon right now making it $49 but sometimes dentists have good deals on them or just look wherever you like to shop, but if you don’t have one, get one. They really are good on your teeth, massage your gums and less harsh or hit and miss than a manual brush.
List of SLS-Free toothpastes I know of without artificial sweeteners (but check labels, not all of these brands make all of their range SLS free and ingredients can change). Some do include fluoride if you think you don’t get any through your water and feel you need it. Beware some touting as “All Natural or Herbal” because Sodium Lauryl Sulfates can be derived from natural sources and may look like this on a label (but combined, not singly, they’re still SLS’s) “lauryl glucoside (from coconut oil), sodium cocoyl glutamate (&) disodium cocoyl glutamate (from amino acids and vegetable oil)”. Basically look for ” NO Sodium Lauryl Sulfates or SLS-Free”. Ones that are free of SLS’s, artificial sweeteners, parabens, phthalates, artificial fragrance … are best in my humble opinion, for your mouth and body in general
- Tom’s of Maine SLS-Free Anticavity & Whitening toothpaste
- Kiss My Face Triple Action Fluoride Free Toothpaste
- Now Foods Xyliwhite Baking Soda Toothpaste
- TheraBreath Dry Mouth Toothpaste
- Verve Ultra SLS Free with Fluoride
- Trader Joes All Natural Anticavity (SLS free & natural, there is a fluoride and no fluoride version)
- Auromere Herbal Toothpaste
- Rembrandt Premium Whitening Mint Toothpaste Extra Gentle for Canker Sores (has fluoride)
- Jason Sea Fresh Natural Deep Sea Toothpaste
- Squigle Enamel Saver or Tooth Builder Toothpaste
- Auromere SLS Free Herbal Toothpaste
- Davids Natural Toothpaste
- Natures Answer Perio Brite