Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, discusses gum cleanings. She is the author of the bestselling book, Age With Style, Guide To A Youthful Smile and Healthy Living.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, helping patients recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health, and author of the bestselling book, Age With Style, Guide To A Youthful Smile and Healthy Living. Today our topic is gum cleanings. Welcome Dr. Nammy.

Dr. Nammy Patel: Hi, John.

What Are Gum Cleanings?

John: So Dr. Nammy, what are gum cleanings? Is it different than a regular cleaning that I might get at the dentist?

Dr. Nammy: Yes, John, they are. So gum cleanings are also known as deep cleanings, and they’re very different. So when you go to a regular dentist for a cleaning, they’re going to clean the superficial areas of the mouth and tops of the teeth, while a deep gum cleaning goes all the way down to the base of your gums. And that’s the area that actually houses all the bacteria.

Importance of Cleaning the Gums

John: So, talk a little bit more about that and why it’s important to clean the gums.

Dr. Nammy: So gums is where all the bugs live. That’s where the snake-like bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth loss live, and also the bacteria that cause cavities in between the teeth. And it’s really important to get all those bugs out, not only to prevent cavities and gum disease, but in all honesty, for overall health because they’re linked to Alzheimer’s. They’re linked to diabetes, just a number of things that you want to avoid. So my preference would be to get deep cleanings done every couple of years and make sure that everything’s really healthy.

John: And how often do you recommend that people get their gums cleaned? Every couple of years, you said?

Dr. Nammy: Yeah, so for a deep cleaning it’s kind of like a swamp. And so the swamp, it takes some time to get the swamp to go to a pond. And so a deep cleaning, if you haven’t been to the dentist for about a year and a half or so, I definitely recommend a deep gum cleaning. Or if you have any sort of conditions like mouth breathing, sleep apnea, anything that increases the amount of bacteria or any hormonal changes, I would recommend they get the deep gum cleaning done and then after that, I would say go in every three months to make sure that those bacteria are continuously being removed so that your beautiful pond doesn’t go back to a swamp.

How Often Should You See a Dentist?

John: So when you say go in every few months, you mean go in for a regular sort of cleaning and a checkup, that type of thing?

Dr. Nammy: Yeah, I would recommend every three months. And so the gum cleanings or the basic cleanings in our practice are different from other practices, as well, because we’re not using toxic chemicals and after… we go deeper into the gums to make sure that everything is clean. Also at the end when we’re done, we use an antimicrobial rinse in order to make sure that the bad bacteria are being removed and only the good bacteria survive.

What Can You Do At Home?

John: Okay. Is there anything that people can do at home in between those cleanings to help to keep their gums clean and healthy?

Dr. Nammy: Absolutely. The first and foremost is using an electric toothbrush. It removes so much bacteria because it’s electronic. It hits your teeth with 50,000 pulsations per minute. That is faster than Superman is what I say. So that’s a good scrubbing. The other thing that I recommend is a Waterpik, and I love the Waterpik because it’s a little fire hose or fire hydrant hose that you can use in between the teeth and it really blasts away all the bacteria from in between the teeth. So the toothbrush gets it from the sides and the top and the Waterpik gets it from in between the teeth, which is really wonderful.

The last thing I do recommend is oil pulling. Oil pulling is really great. My preference is sesame oil versus coconut oil, and it really gets rid of all the bacteria and the toxins in the mouth and also helps rebuild gum tissue, which is wonderful. And then the last thing, my recommendation would be to make sure your overall health is good. So if you’re mouth breathing, it’s going to get more bacteria to grow. If you’re taking medications, it’s going to make the bacteria grow. If you’re diabetic, it’s going to make the bacteria grow. So it’s really important to look at the underlying conditions and see what they are and really address them.

What is Oil Pulling?

John: Can you talk a little bit more about oil pulling and explain what that is?

Dr. Nammy: So oil pulling is taking in oil like coconut oil and you use that to swish it around your mouth for about 20 minutes or so. What it does is it pulls out all the toxins from the gum and also the tongue. The tongue actually has a lot of blood vessels in it, so your body actually detoxes through your tongue, and so it will get rid of all the toxins that it can pull out. Blood is flowing. It’s going to pull out all that toxins. The coconut oil is going to do that, and it really gives you a healthier mouth, a healthier body.

John: So in addition to the oil pulling and the electric toothbrush and the Waterpik, do you, of course, still recommend sort of standard flossing every day, as well?

Dr. Nammy: You can if you want to, but if you’re really effective with your Waterpik, I feel like it does a really good job, mainly because I find that flossing is technique sensitive, and it’s hard sometimes to get to those back teeth and it’s just better to… I find it to be more efficient to be with the Waterpik because you know that you’re getting a good clean versus with the flossing, it’s a little bit technique sensitive.

John: Okay. All right. That’s really great advice, Dr. Nammy. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Dr. Nammy: My pleasure.

John: And for more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website at sfgreendentist.com or call 415-578-9347.