We all want to walk through the world with our best foot forward. This will mean many things to different people, but regardless of differences, most people see eye to eye on the importance of oral health. Teeth are a focal point on the face. Other than the eyes, teeth are the first things we see when looking at a face. We all notice them because they are important for some key functions that only teeth perform. They are essential for eating and communicating. So, we all need them and we would rather not lose them. Healthy bone and gums are the foundation of healthy teeth. This is why we should understand gum disease, especially the initial phase, otherwise known as gingivitis.
The common form of Gingivitis is due to an infection that is a result of extreme amount of plaque buildup in the mouth. This is beyond the normal bits that are missed in routine brushing and flossing. For this reason, it is a healthy practice to schedule routine dental appointments so that your dentist or hygienist can thoroughly check and clean your teeth. Other than brushing and flossing, mouth rinse is an additional preventative option in treatment of gingivitis. Rinses work by killing bacteria which then reduces inflammation and infection. If you check one or more, of the oral health conditions listed below, you may be placing yourself at risk for the bad effects of gingivitis. This may lead to further oral health complications down the road if gingivitis continues unchecked.
Gingivitis symptoms include:
- Sore gums
- Gums that are red instead of the characteristically healthy pink color.
- Receding gums that pull away from the teeth.
- Bad breath.
- Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing.
- Tender gums and teeth that are sensitive to temperature change.
- Cavities between teeth in addition to those on pits and fissures.
What causes gingivitis?
When a part of the body becomes red, swollen, painful or sore, it is said to be inflamed. This is the body’s way of directing our attention to the fact that something is wrong and that it needs attention before a bigger problem develops. Gingivitis is just that: an inflammation and a warning about a problem in the mouth. Many times the signs are subtle as the problem is not recognized. As such, you may not know that you have gingivitis. It can be an elusive disease in this way. For example, some people might be brushing twice or three times a day, may not experience pain and not know that they have gingivitis.
There are two categories of causes of gingivitis. The more common form which is plaque-induced gingivitis has been mentioned above. This is result of poor dental hygiene and improper diet. The second form is nonplaque induced. This is associated with body’s immune response, viral and fungal infections, medications, hormonal imbalances, genetics, and trauma.
Our mouths contain bacteria that normally don’t harm our teeth. After eating foods containing sugar, primarily carbohydrates, this bacteria goes into a frenzy and begins to multiply and congregate. The result is a buildup of toxins below the gum line and it destroys teeth, breaks down enamel, pulls gums away from the teeth and bone, and dissolves bone.
Plaque-induced gingivitis is the beginning stage of this downhill slope. If left untreated, it can lead to periodontal disease and the result is a gaping hole where one or more teeth once resided. Now, no one wants that!
Unfortunately, we can experience problems or imbalances that are beyond our control. These causes of gingivitis are best dealt with the help of focused and more specialized attention.
How can we prevent gingivitis?
Here are a few ways to prevent, or help treat, gum disease and further complications with gingivitis.
1. Plaque attacks the minerals on teeth. Choosing a fluoride toothpaste will strengthen teeth by helping to replace minerals that have been lost.
2. In addition to toothpaste, incorporate mouth rinses and water that also contain fluoride into your daily routine.
3. Pay special attention to the side areas of teeth and gums when brushing. These spaces act as perfect breeding grounds for bacteriafilled plaque to grow.
3. Floss often! Most of the time, plaque builds up in hard to reach places like in between surfaces of the molars. Keep these spaces free and clear of trapped food. Remember those acid forming bacteria love enclosed spaces where they have lots of carbohydrates and where they can grow undisturbed.
4. What we place inside of our bodies will be reflected in our hair, skin, nails, and… teeth! Eating a well-balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals will help your body fight inflammation and infection from the inside and this will help keep your teeth strong. Vegetable and fruit juices as well as smoothies are a great way to get many of the vitamins and minerals in a single serving.
5. See your physician to correct any hormonal imbalances, or medicine and other treatment issues. Note for women: birth control may actually help promote oral health by normalizing hormone levels. On the other hand, they can make the gums more sensitive to gingivitis. However, this is less of an issue with the newer lower dose regimens.
6. See your dentist right away if you notice something abnormal going on in the mouth.