Tips on How to Treat Gingivitis
It is likely that, if dentists were asked which was the most common of gum disease to treat, gingivitis would be the first they would name. It would probably surprise most to find out how many people actually had this disease that are not even being treated for it.
Definition of gingivitis
Gingivitis is a disease of the gums that begins as inflammation. It is considered to be one of the mildest forms of gum disease that can become progressively worse if left untreated. In fact, the subtleness of the disease is one reason that many individuals are unaware that they have it. However, gingivitis should never be taken lightly as it will be a precursor to more serious gum disease.
The change that occurs in the gums is a gradual one; healthy pink gums become darker in color, a slight spot of blood when brushing the teeth, tender gums and bad breath indicate the onset of gingivitis. Perhaps if pain were experienced more people would be alerted to the condition, but there is no discomfort associated with gingivitis other than the gum tenderness.
The first sign of gum disease is likely to be local swelling and sensitivity of gum tissue. At the slightest pressure from either brushing or flossing, the gums will bleed. The gums may begin to pull away from the teeth, making the teeth appear longer. Pockets will form as result of the receding gums; trapping food particles and bacteria within. As result, the combination of the particles, bacteria and saliva create a bad odor that is more commonly known as bad breath. It is important to treat gingivitis at the first note of these symptoms to prevent the disease from increasing.
How Gingivitis starts
Plaque is a sticky film that coats teeth as a chemical reaction of starch, sugar and bacteria. It is this invisible “glue” that initiates gum disease. If plaque is not removed from the teeth on a regular basis through brushing and flossing, it will harden into a more solid substance called tartar. When plaque and tartar remain, the gingiva (the gum tissue surrounding the base of the teeth) becomes irritated and inflamed. As more and more tartar and plaque accumulates, more complications arise.
Since plaque can so easily be removed through good dental hygiene, it may seem unusual that gingivitis is such a common complaint. The truth is that most people do not practice regular brushing and flossing that is adequate to remove these elements. Using a fresh toothbrush with soft bristles after each meal or snack, using mouth rinses, dental picks and floss are all effective at removing plaque and thereby preventing gum disease.
People can often treat gingivitis on their own when it is detected in its very early stages. The first step is to adopt improved dental hygiene habits; brushing and flossing several times each day, focusing not only on the teeth but the gum line as well. If possible, invest in an electric toothbrush which does a better job than manual brushing. Use a mouthwash that inhibits accumulation of plaque and fights gingivitis, and use it frequently.
Symptoms that the gingivitis has gone beyond home treatment are loose teeth, pockets of pus on the gums, persistent bad breath and the shrinking of gums from the teeth. These are signs that a visit to the dentist is a must. A thorough cleaning will be done, with scaling performed to remove the hardened tartar. If there are dental issues such as misaligned teeth or badly fitting dental work, it will be recommended that these be fixed to avoid future problems. These steps will almost always clear up the gingivitis, especially when improved dental hygiene is practiced by the individual following the visit.
Gingivitis, plaque and tartar are all common terms for a common condition; one which many people fail to take seriously. The very health of your teeth is at stake, however, and warrants consistent good dental hygiene to prevent rather than treat gingivitis.