When plaque hardens onto your teeth along the gum lines, and bacteria take up residence and eat out infected pockets in your gum tissue, that is gum disease. Ineffective plaque removal while it is soft is the number one cause of gingivitis, but smoking, drinking alcohol, a low-nutrient diet, genetic factors, and even an over-stressed lifestyle can all contribute.
Gingivitis is the earliest and least severe stage of gum disease. It involves your periodontal tissues becoming inflamed, reddened, and easily bleeding when you brush or floss. Halitosis (chronic bad breath), hyper-sensitive teeth, a receding gum line, and heavy tartar build-up also often accompany gingivitis.
The good news about gingivitis is that it can be reversed with proper care and treatment. If you wait until later stages of periodontal disease (periodontitis and advanced periodontitis), gums can become badly infected, jawbone tissue weakened, and teeth loosened or ready to fall out. You can replace missing teeth with dental implants, but it’s far better to catch the problem early and retain your natural teeth.
How Can Gingivitis Be Treated?
There are ways you can treat developing gingivitis at home, but you should also see your periodontist for a “gum check-up” and to receive their advice on whether you need professional care.
Brushing and flossing twice a day (after you get up in the morning and just before going to bed at night) can help your teeth and gums recover and help prevent further problems. Use a soft-bristled brush of with a relatively small brush-head. This will allow you to brush over the gum line without hurting your gums and to maneuver along interdental gaps to push food particles out. (Never use an old, “scraggly” toothbrush since it could hurt your gums.) Choose a fluoride-containing toothpaste, and look for a brand of both toothpaste and mouthwash that is designed to promote optimal gum health.
Smoking and heavy drinking are detrimental to your oral health and should be given up to help your gums recover. Also, eat vitamin-rich foods, drink plenty of water, and consider chewing sugarless gum to promote adequate saliva excretion, which will keep your mouth moist and help kill bacteria.
Be sure to get a dental check-up and teeth cleaning twice annually so that long-encrusted tartar will not hurt your gums. That kind of hardened plaque simply can’t be removed by brushing. If you do see clear signs of gingivitis in your mouth, do not hesitate to see a periodontist. The earlier you catch the problem, the easier it will be to reverse.
Normally, early-stage gum problems can be successfully reversed if you take the proper course of action. Your gums can stop bleeding and soreness or inflammation can disappear. Don’t think it’s hopeless to stop gum disease; many others have successfully done just that.
To learn more about how to prevent and reverse gum disease, in Ormond Beach, FL, contact Periodontist Dr. Raymond A. Kenzik. He can assess your oral health and determine if you are in need of periodontal treatment.