Gingivitis: Treatment, Cause, Prevention
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gum tissue. It is the first stage of gum disease. If should not be taken lightly since it could advance into a disease condition that has serious implications for your health. Gingivitis treatment should be taken seriously.
Gum Disease Symptoms
- Red, swollen gums
- Gum recession
- Bleeding gums (especially after brushing)
- Bad breath
- Tender gums
Studies show that the majority of adults are suffering from some kind of periodontal disease. This silent oral condition is usually left unnoticed because it does not elicit pain or show serious complications until the later phases. With that in mind, it is understandable why many people simply brush it off, pun intended, as a minor inconvenience.
Sadly, most of those afflicted do not regret doing so until it is too late. Thankfully you can treat gingivitis at home. That is, if you start taking oral hygiene seriously at the early stages of the condition. if you are looking to cure gingivitis, then you need to understand its root cause.
The Cause of Gum Disease – Bacteria
Once they have increased in number, our immune system will begin to react to the foreign invaders. New blood vessels grown on the affected area provide macrophages easier access to the bacteria. Since these minute vessels are new, they are fragile and bleed easily. This is what causes the gums to bleed, even under the slightest aggravation. At what stage of gum disease do you find yourself?
Stages of Periodontal Disease
There are two types of periodontal disease, gingivitis and periodontitis. Here is an in depth definition of both types of periodontal problems. This will help you understand what oral condition you are dealing with. Note that the progress from the first stage to the last varies with people and may not always be distinct.
Gingivitis symptoms include sensitive, inflamed and painful gums that bleed easily. During this stage, the plaque and tartar remain above the gumline. Therefore, the inner connective tissue has not yet been breached.
If the condition is treated during this stage, there will be no loss of bone or connective tissue. This means that the patient is not in danger of losing the tooth that is involved. Keep in mind that should it progress to the later stage. The tooth may require root canal therapy, deep scaling or extraction.
Although gingivitis may be quelled before it has gotten to this stage, it is important to note that it will always precede periodontitis. Therefore, periodontitis will consistently be a result of an untreated case of gingivitis.
During this phase, the plaque and tartar will have gone deeper. The deposits are to be found under the gumline as well. This gives the bacteria access to the periodontal ligament or connective tissue. These ligaments hold the tooth in place. Once they are infected, a patient may notice, pain, inflammation, pus and the tooth will be loosened from the alveolar socket.
If this condition is not resolved, it may lead to Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis. This is a serious condition that can lead to oral cysts, soft tissue cysts and may even be fatal.
If you have gums that bleed easily, it would be wise to improve your oral hygiene habits. Here are some ways that you can control this annoying condition.
Switch To Sonic
Start by switching to a sonic toothbrush. Make sure it is recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA). This will ensure that the bristles are safe enough to use, and that it will not cause further damage.
Our mouth plays host to more than 500 types of microorganisms. Shockingly, this is quite common and our immune system does not consider them a threat. However, if a person does not practice proper oral hygiene, their numbers will multiply, owing to the amount of plaque and tartar, which provide them with ample nourishment.
Brush Regularly and Properly
Make sure that you brush all surfaces every morning and before bedtime. It is understandable that most will not be able to brush properly during lunch, owing to busy schedules. However, if you can, bring a toothbrush with you. Try to brush after every meal, snacks included, to control plaque build-up.
Change Your Toothpaste
Are you still using the regular kind that has SLS and sodium fluoride? Now is time to make the big change. Keep in mind that fluoride can weaken connective tissue. Studies also show that it has been linked to bone cancer. Opt for a toothpaste that does not contain this harmful toxin. Switch to a liquid toothpaste that contains safe and mild ingredients that can clean your teeth effectively.
Floss After You Brush
Your interdental spaces harbor more plaque than you think. Brushing alone cannot remove the sticky bacteria-ridden film. This is why flossing your teeth is so important. However, many people think that it is a hassle. Some do not bother with it because they have a hard time with floss.
Invest in a water pick. It is easier to use and provides you with better results. Please note that it would be best to purchase one that is recommended by the ADA as well.
Say No To Mouthwash With Alcohol
Alcohol can cause dry mouth or xerostomia. Therefore, it would be best to avoid any mouthwash that contains the mentioned substance. If possible, it would be safer to switch to a liquid toothpaste that doubles as a mouthwash, preferably if it has potent anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that are essential for a clean oral cavity.
Regular Visits To The Dentist
Never underestimate the importance of regular dental visits. Professional tooth cleaning procedures are vital for the survival of your teeth. Simple scaling and polishing techniques can do wonders, especially if you do not floss properly.
This process will ensure that all your plaque deposits are removed and thus, it does not gain access to the gingival sulcus, where periodontal pockets form. It is performed every six months, or sooner, depending on your plaque build-up.
Invest In Oral Hygiene Products
Many people think that a regular toothbrush, toothpaste and a roll of floss can control their gingivitis. Unfortunately, if you do not have the proper tools and products, your condition will not improve. You need the right oral hygiene arsenal to control your condition. Although treating mild gingivitis at home is a possibility, it is important to use the right products, especially with regard to toothpaste and mouthwash.
Keep in mind that the components of regular toothpaste can cause tissue irritation. This is why it is important to invest in one that has mild ingredients, especially if you have receding gums.
Are Medications Necessary?
If you have red and painful gums, avoid self-medication. Make an appointment with your dental practitioner so that he or she can assess the problem, perform the right procedure and prescribe medication to control the discomfort caused by your gingivitis or periodontitis.
Keep in mind that severe cases will warrant the prescription of anti-inflammatory agents, antibiotics and pain relievers to resolve the discomfort and kill the bacteria that has taken residence in the area. At times, antiseptic mouthwashes may be needed to control the infection. Please note that the use of liquid toothpaste would benefit a patient greatly, especially if his or her gums are sensitive and painful. Therefore, if your gingiva is red and raw, ask your dentist to prescribe a liquid toothpaste that doubles as a mouthwash.
What to do next?
It is possible to treat gingivitis yourself, providing that it is still in the early stages. However, keep in mind that you have to make sure you are diligent with oral care habits. This will prevent your condition from progressing into periodontitis or ANUG. Please keep in mind that it is also important to update your dentist about your condition regularly until it has resolved.