Gingivitis and You: Prevention and Treatment
You’ve probably heard toothpaste and mouthwash commercials hype that they prevent “gingivitis.” But what is so terrible about gingivitis and why should you prevent it?
Gingivitis is the inflammation or infection of the gums. This inflammation is caused by plaque and tartar build-up on your teeth. Plaque is a film on your teeth that contains bacteria, acid, and food particles. If that plaque is not removed with regular brushing, it hardens into tartar. Tartar needs to be removed by a dentist because it harbours bacteria that can infect your gums and jaw. Gingivitis, if not treated, can lead to periodontitis and even tooth loss.
How Can I Prevent Gingivitis?
The easiest way to prevent gingivitis is basic, good oral hygiene. Brushing for two minutes, two times a day and flossing every day will prevent gingivitis from developing. Make sure you brush all the surfaces of your teeth, using a soft brush and short strokes. Seeing your dentist for regular cleanings also prevents gingivitis by removing tartar as it develops.
While gingivitis is mostly caused by less-than-stellar dental hygiene, other risk factors exist. Hormonal changes during puberty or pregnancy can cause gum inflammation. Likewise, smoking and uncontrolled diabetes can harm your gums. Basically anything that can inflame your gums can lead to gingivitis. Other risk factors include:
- Poor nutrition
- Decreased immunity from cancer treatment or HIV/AIDS
- Substance abuse
- Poorly-fitted crowns and fillings
Some signs of gingivitis include red or swollen gums, bad breath, and bleeding after brushing and flossing. However, sometimes symptoms are much harder to detect and are only discovered at a dental visit.
How Can I Treat Gingivitis?
Although there are many unproven at-home remedies all over the Internet, the only way to completely treat gingivitis is with the help of your dentist. After a complete exam, your dentist will then clean your teeth thoroughly, removing tartar and plaque build-up above and below the gum line. This may include root planing, which smooths the tooth root so plaque has fewer places to hide. They will then suggest some oral hygiene practices that you might be missing or doing ineffectively. Good hygiene includes:
- Brushing for two minutes, twice a day
- Flossing at least once a day
- Regular cleaning and check-ups (at least every six months)
It is important to brush and floss each tooth every day because plaque can come back after just 24 hours. Visiting your dentist every six months not only helps remove tartar but helps your dentist notice changes in your gums before a problem develops. Your dentist may also recommend antibacterial mouthwash, an electric toothbrush or oral irrigator, and more frequent cleanings.
Gingivitis is common but preventable and very treatable. If you have concerns about your gums or have any symptoms, be sure to give us a call at Abougoush Family Dental Care at 403-289-7370. We’ll be happy to answer all your questions or schedule an appointment.