Treatment and Prevention for Gum Disease and Gingivitis
Have you ever had those times where your gums bleed or swell up and get sensitive when brushing or flossing? If you can relate to this, you just might have gingivitis. But, before you start to worry, catching it early is the way to go. And, since forewarned is forearmed, here’s the scoop on gum disease and gingivitis from the Bondi Dentists:
What is gingivitis, anyway?
When your gums are healthy, they are firm and pale pink, and they fit tightly around the gums. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums that leaves them tender, swollen, and dark red. The gums will bleed easily when brushed or flossed, and you might also suffer from receding gums and bad breath.
Although gingivitis is fairly common, it should be taken seriously. Untreated, it can lead to periodontitis, a form of gum disease that can spread to the tissue and bone beneath the gums and cause tooth loss.
Gingivitis Risk Factors
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Put simply, the best way to handle gingivitis is to never have it at all. So, although everyone is potentially at risk for developing gingivitis, here are some factors that increase that risk:
- Tobacco (either smoked or chewed)
- Poor hygiene
- Poor nutrition (especially a diet deficient in vitamin C)
- Dry mouth
- Certain high blood pressure and seizure medications
- Hormonal changes (pregnancy, menstrual cycles, menopause)
- Old age
- Crooked teeth that make proper brushing difficult
- Ill-fitting dental restorations
- Issues that compromise the immune system, such as cancer or HIV/AIDS
When gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to periodontitis. This is a serious infection of the gums which destroys the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth, leading to tooth loss. It has also been implicated in the development of other health problems, including respiratory disease, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and some cancers.
ProTips on Gingivitis Prevention from The Bondi Dentists:
The best way to prevent gingivitis is to… wait for it…
Practice excellent oral hygiene!
I know. It’s the same thing we’ve all heard since we were four or five years old, but it’s just as true now as it was then. Brush twice a day for two full minutes. Floss and rinse daily. Take care of your teeth, and they will take care of you.
The next step is to have a healthy diet. Try to avoid constant snacking or loads of sugar. And, if you do have a snack, try to rinse your teeth off with water afterwards to reduce the formation of bacteria and plaque.
Finally, come in twice a year for your regular checkup and cleaning. If you have any signs of dental issues, your dentist will be able to help you address them early.
ProTips on Gingivitis Treatment from The Bondi Dentists:
If you do discover that you have gingivitis, don’t worry. All hope is not lost. There are many things you can do to treat it, both at home and in the dentist’s office. Since gingivitis is an infection, the most effective treatment will be one which targets the infected area. Your dentist may recommend:
- More effective brushing techniques: This is a common problem. When you brush your teeth with poor technique, it can be as if they were never brushed at all. Your dentist may recommend that you switch to an electric toothbrush, and will likely tell you to pay special attention to the gumline, the problem area with gingivitis.
- Antibacterial toothpaste: The benefit of antibacterial toothpaste is that it continues to fight plaque for a good while after you brush.
- Antibacterial mouthwash: Mouthwash can surround each and every tooth, getting to those hard to reach places that are often missed when brushing and reducing the bacteria that contribute to gum disease and gingivitis.
Depending on your case, there are a few additional treatment options that your dentist may recommend for controlling gingivitis:
- Prescription antimicrobial mouthwash: Antimicrobial mouthwash is more effective at fighting bacteria and restoring a healthy smile.
- Deep Cleaning: Your dentist will use special instruments to perform a deep cleaning, an intensive process that extends beneath the gumline.
- Antibiotic Gel: This is spread on the gum pockets after a deep cleaning is performed. It helps to control infection and speed the rate of healing.
If you’d like to know more about our restorative or dental hygiene services, feel free to contact us. At The Bondi Dentists, we know teeth, and we know they matter.