How to Stop Gingivitis Before it Progresses to Gum Disease
Gingivitis can be cured, if it has not progressed too far. Act early.
If you’ve heard us here at River Walk Dental use this term before, you might be wondering what it means. It’s just a fancy term that’s used for the first stage of gum disease. Broken down, the word means, “inflammation of the gingiva.” The gingiva is simply your gum tissue. Irritation in that area can cause discoloration and bleeding.
There are several stages to gum disease, and gingivitis is the earliest stage. At this point, the infection hasn’t spread deeper into your gums or bone tissue. This stage of gum disease is reversible, but only with prompt treatment. You will want to see your dentist early if you want a chance to cure your gingivitis before it progresses to the more complicated stages of gum disease.
What causes gingivitis?
Gingivitis can be divided into two categories: plaque-induced and non-plaque-induced. Non-plaque-induced gingivitis may be caused by viral and fungal infections, toxins, and allergic reactions. But plaque-induced gingivitis is the more common type.
How does that plaque get there in the first place? The problem arises from poor oral hygiene. Our mouths are home to millions of hungry bacteria who love to feast on the foods and drinks we consume. The waste they leave behind is what we know as plaque. The plaque then goes on to produce acids that erode healthy gum tissue. So, that’s how gum disease starts: with some simple irritation and infection around the gumline that’s caused by plaque.
The simple way to prevent this problem in the first place is to not give the plaque a home, and you can do this by maintaining good oral hygiene through home care and dental cleanings. But if you’re already dealing with gingivitis, contact your dentist. At this point, more professional measures are needed.
Gingivitis Warning Signs
It’s extremely important to be alert to the initial red flags of gum disease. If you are experiencing any bleeding while brushing and flossing, that means infection is present. You may notice discoloration at the base of your gums. Healthy gums are firm and pink, while infected gums tend to be softer and darker red in color. A slightly yellowed tint accompanied with tenderness and swelling is also an indicator of gingivitis.
Halitosis, or bad breath, is one sign of gum disease. More plaque means more bacteria, and these bacteria give off a foul odor. If quick fixes like mouthwashes and rinses aren’t taking care of the problem, gingivitis could be the culprit.
Gumline recession and sensitivity are signs of gingivitis. Your gums shouldn’t be shrinking. As your gums shrink, the sensitive part of your tooth (what we call the dentin) is exposed. This can cause discomfort and pain especially when consuming cold foods and drinks. However, the early stages of gum disease usually present without any pain at all. That’s why it’s so important to not miss your dental exams.
The Risk of Letting Gingivitis Go
What would happen if you didn’t do anything to treat the gingivitis? After all, it’s just the first stage of more serious gum disease.
After the infection settles in the gingiva, it continues to spread to the rest of the gums. The inflammation causes the pockets between your teeth and gum line to get bigger. These pockets fill with bacteria, causing damage deeper and deeper into the gums. Eventually, the infection reaches the bones surrounding the teeth. As the bone begins to lose its strength, teeth become loose causing tooth loss. While this sounds bad (and it is), the damage doesn’t stop there. The infection can spread to other parts of the body linking advanced gum disease to a host of health problems.
Both kinds of gingivitis mentioned earlier can—and eventually will—lead to periodontitis. Gingivitis is reversible, but periodontitis is not. Gum disease is nothing to play around with, and we need to stop it from progressing into periodontitis before this kind of irreversible damage occurs.
Let’s stop gingivitis in its tracks. So, how can it be treated?
How to Cure Gingivitis
Your dentist will do an examination and measure pocket depth to evaluate for gingivitis and decide on treatment. Gingivitis needs to be treated professionally and then maintained by regular dental checkups, cleanings, and good home care. It’s important to have regular scheduled dental appointments and cleanings in order to maintain healthy, happy pink gums.
Home Care is Important
Your at-home oral care routine makes a huge difference in defending against gum disease. You should brush for two minutes twice a day, and, if you haven’t already, switch your manual brush for an electric brush. Electric brushes tend to do a better job at conquering that stubborn plaque. Flossing cleans out the bacteria and tiny food particles lodged in between the teeth. It’s crucial to maintaining good gum health, so if you want to keep your teeth, you need to floss them.
Add in a mouthwash to your oral hygiene routine to keep ahead of the bacteria. Stay away from tobacco products. If you are using tobacco, not only does it increase your chances of developing gum disease, it also can mask some of the first signs and symptoms.
Ask your dentist for advice on how to brush your teeth and whether you are missing any particular areas, and don’t skip dental checkups and cleanings. If you want to learn more about gum disease and what you can do to prevent and cure it, or if you are looking for quality dental care in Flower Mound, contact us. Doctor Naik and the team here at River Walk Dental are more than happy to help.