Reverse Gingivitis and Prevent Future Relapse
Statistics show that nearly half of adults over the age of 30 have some level of gum disease, but many dentists believe that even more could have untreated gingivitis. Gingivitis, or inflamed gums, is often a sign of poor oral hygiene and plaque, but other factors like diet or unrelated medical conditions or medications can also increase the risks of developing it.
The good news is gingivitis can be stopped through professional dental care and by improving at-home dental care habits.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a common oral health problem characterized by gum inflammation, especially in the “pocket” around the base of each tooth. This inflammation leads to irritated, red, and swollen gums. Some people may also feel slight discomfort and tenderness when brushing or flossing, often resulting in bleeding gums, a common symptom of gingivitis.
Gingivitis is caused by bad bacteria growing in the gum pockets, most often triggered by excessive plaque buildup on the teeth. The plaque gradually pushes into the gums, irritating the tissue and causing an inflammatory response.
Gingivitis is reversible and doesn’t cause permanent damage when caught in its earliest stage. However, left untreated, gingivitis won’t simply go away. Instead, the inflammation can turn into a gum infection, leading to an advanced form of gum disease called periodontitis.
Are gingivitis and gum disease the same?
Sometimes the terms gingivitis and gum disease are used interchangeably, which can easily lead to confusion. Gum disease (also called periodontal disease) is a broad term that includes different stages of disease, ranging from mild gingivitis all the way to the advanced stages of periodontitis.
The graduation from gingivitis to periodontitis is subtle, but your dentist can tell the difference during an examination. The simplest explanation is that gingivitis turns into periodontitis when the inflammation, irritation, and bleeding evolve into swollen gum pockets, receded gums, and wiggly teeth. Untreated periodontitis will eventually lead to permanent damage to the gums and jaw bone and tooth loss.
What can I do to stop my gingivitis right now?
The sooner you take action to stop gingivitis, the better. You can start taking action right now in these five ways.
1. Book an appointment with your dentist.
As soon as you begin to suspect something is going on with your gum health, it’s time to call your dentist.
Gingivitis symptoms aren’t necessarily a reason for an urgent care visit with your dentist, but it’s more than enough reason to schedule a check-up as soon as possible. When you call your dentist, let the receptionist or staff member know the symptoms you’re experiencing.
2. Get oral care products that target gum disease.
There’s a dizzying selection of oral care products on store shelves, but we recommend focusing on products targeted at gingivitis or gum health. Toothpaste or mouthwashes designed for managing gingivitis often have special formulations to fight against bacteria trapped in the gum pockets. These products aren’t magic, but they can give a helpful edge to your battle against gum disease.
If you are diagnosed with gingivitis or more advanced gum disease, your dentist may prescribe professional oral care products only available through a dentist. These are much more effective than store-bought products when fighting against active inflammation or infection.
3. Mindfully brush at least twice a day for two minutes.
The average person rushes through brushing and might even brush for only 30 seconds to a minute. Practice being more mindful of your twice-daily brushing sessions, and set a two-minute timer on your phone to ensure you brush each quadrant of your teeth for 30 seconds each, keeping your brush at a 45-degree angle.
If you’re interested in upgrading to an electric toothbrush, some new models have a built-in timer and a sensor to let you know if you’re brushing too hard or not hard enough.
4. Floss at least once a day, using the proper technique.
Flossers make flossing easy, but they typically aren’t as effective as using string floss with the proper technique. Save your flossers for use after meals. Before your bedtime brushing, take some string floss and clean in between each tooth carefully, reaching up to the gum pockets.
If you have limited mobility or generally have a tough time using string floss, upgrading to a water flosser is a fantastic solution and may even encourage you to floss more often.
5. Consider ways to create a more mouth-healthy diet.
Your diet greatly impacts oral health, especially when it comes to reducing plaque buildup, relieving gum inflammation, and fighting against gum infection. You don’t need to change everything you eat, but limiting sugary, acidic, or starchy beverages and foods is a great step in the right direction.
If you’re not sure where to start, our team can provide you with information on how to create a smile-friendly diet.
Periodontal Care at Bloomington Modern Dentistry
You’re not alone in your fight against gingivitis or gum disease. The team at Bloomington Modern Dentistry can diagnose and treat even the most advanced stage of periodontitis and help you proactively avoid relapsing in the future with a custom preventive care plan.