Dental issues

Question: What causes the gums to recede?

The teeth are the Upadhatu (sub-tissue) of Asthi Dhatu in Ayurveda.

The gums recede because of the bone tissue. When the jaw bone tissue (Asthi) starts to reduce in volume the gums follow the reducing bone structure.

The gums are part Pitta function and relate to both Rasa & Rakta Dhatus - so these dhatus need to be supported. Pachaka Pitta in the small intestine is directly related the health of the gums and mouth.

The teeth and jaw bone are the main functional part of Asthi Dhatu and when they do not function correctly - due to missing teeth, improper chewing, etc. - then the whole dhatu becomes affected and nutrient absorption is reduced to Asthi and all other Dhatus. The incorrect function also causes the food to be chewed poorly (when teeth are missing) and this further affects digestion of nutrients.

According to my dentist (whom I trained in Ayurveda many years ago) we need to look at the teeth and gums from a functional point of view. Asthi Dhatu is not static and needs to function correctly for food to be digested correctly and nutrients absorbed correctly. Hence, it is best to replace damaged or broken teeth so that the jaw bone does not start to recede.

When the jaw bone structure is supported the gums stop receding.

Pitta and acidity in the small intestine need to be monitored as this is what controls the PH factors in the mouth and gums. Using Amalaki to control Pitta and to support gums is a classic treatment. Diet should be modified if needed to a Pitta reducing diet.

When the nerves are involved then Majja Dhatu (Kapha) and nerve function (Vata) are implicated - this makes everything more complicated (and painful). Nerves in the teeth cannot recover if the jaw bone is not healthy and if teeth are missing. Killing the nerve is symptomatic and will help the immediate, but not prevent the problem from starting again.

In conclusion all three Doshas are involved in the correct function of the mouth (teeth, gums, etc.). Each Dosha should be analyzed to determine the cause of the dental problems. Of course, diet is a major factor in care of the teeth. Diet should follow Prakriti unless there is a strong problem, then diet should follow Vikriti until the issue is corrected; i.e., follow a Pitta diet if there is high acidity in the mouth and bleeding gums.

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Vaidya Atreya Smith - Born in California, USA he is the author of fourteen books on the healing traditions of India and is currently the director of the European Institute of Vedic Studies in Switzerland.