Q: Since the past one month I have been facing problems in maintaining oral hygiene due to gum issues. Sometimes my gums bleed. Besides, although I take care to brush/floss properly, I am suffering from bad breath. I get my teeth cleaned once in six months, and do not have any other health complications. Please suggest treatment.

Most reasons for bad breath start from the mouth itself. Gingivitis is the most common reason for bad breath and bleeding gums and is caused by plaque formation.

[Ayurveda treatment for infant tooth decay]

Plaque is a mixture of food residues, dead gum cells and bacteria that forms between the gum and the tooth. The bacteria create an unpleasant odour and contribute to bleeding gums and loosening of teeth.

Poor oral care habits, smoking or chewing tobacco, older age, dry mouth conditions, poor nutrition, genetics and certain fungal infections could lead to developing gingivitis. Sometimes, there is no specific cause for gingivitis.

Gingivitis is mentioned in Ayurveda as upakusa. Procedures for treating upakusa include scaling (scraping of the tartar deposits from above and below the gum line) and antibiotic/antimicrobial mouth rinse.

Dried ginger, black pepper, licorice-Glycyrrhiza glabra are among some of the common ingredients of such Ayurvedic mouth washes.

Start with the dentist for a proper cleaning of plaque; he or she will also guide you in proper brushing techniques and flossing. Using a tongue cleaner is also helpful.

Ayurveda suggests using herbs having spicy, bitter and astringent tastes for cleansing teeth. Bitter taste improves taste and fights bad breath; spicy herbs improve salivation; astringent herbs heal gum wounds and oral ulcers. Check with an Ayurveda store for products such as dasanakanthi choornam and khadiradi gulika, which can be used as a substitute for toothpaste.

Gargling with Arimedadi thailam or with sesame oil is effective in treating bleeding gums. Sesame oil has been extensively used as a traditional Indian remedy for strengthening teeth, gums, and jaws and to prevent tooth decay and bleeding gums. Gargle daily with a teaspoon of sesame oil added to half a glass of lukewarm water after brushing the teeth. Or wipe teeth and gums with sesame oil after brushing. Gargling with Dhanyamla (a fermented liquid available in Ayurveda stores) is effective in controlling mouth odour.

Dr VL Shyam is a Dubai-based Ayurveda practitioner. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.