Gingivitis is a-for the most part-preventable gum disease characterized by swollen, tender gums that bleed when you brush your teeth. Gingivitis is a type of periodontal disease that is caused by bacteria that grow between the teeth and the gums. The most common cause of gingivitis is poor dental hygiene, although poor hygiene is not always the case. People who have a lowered immunity, and those taking certain kinds of medications are susceptible to contracting gingivitis.
Patients that go to their dentists regularly for check-ups and cleanings, and brush and floss daily are less likely to have gingivitis. Plaque normally forms on the teeth: that is the sticky feeling you get when you rub your tongue across your teeth. That sticky feeling is bacteria that have grown there. When we eat, traces of the sugars and starches we eat are left behind and become food for the bacteria that live in our mouths. This is why we should brush our teeth after every meal, to get rid of the traces of food; and to get rid of the bacteria that is living in our mouths.
As the plaque forms, it builds up on our teeth. When we brush, the plaque is scrubbed away; however it comes back within a few hours. If we forget to brush, or don’t brush regularly, the plaque builds up and hardens on our teeth, causing irritation to the gingival-the edge of the gums that comes into contact with the teeth. In about 3 days the built-up plaque hardens into calculus (tartar) that does not go away when we brush our teeth.
People that have to take medications, such as antidepressants and antiseizure medications are at risk of developing gingivitis because these medications interfere with the production of saliva. Saliva helps us to clean the surface of the teeth, somewhat-but when we don’t produce enough saliva the bacteria are more likely to grow and stick to the teeth.
People that have autoimmune diseases, such as leukemia and chronic inflammatory diseases may be prone to their gums becoming irritated, causing gingival tissue to peel away, resulting in gingivitis. Poor nutrition can also be a factor, because a diet deficient in essential vitamins and minerals leads to poor dental health, as well as poor health in general.
If you have diabetes, your risk to develop gingivitis is increased because the elevated blood sugars can cause tooth decay and tissue breakdown in your gums, resulting in gingivitis. The condition of the mouth-healthy or unhealthy-is an indication of general overall health. If your gums bleed easily, are swollen and red-rather than pink and firm-you should see your dentist for evaluation, diagnosis and treatment if necessary.
Your dentist may start treating you by cleaning your teeth on the first visit. He/she will remove the tarter by a procedure called scaling. The process of cleaning your teeth may be a little uncomfortable, if your gums are sensitive. After cleaning your teeth-the plaque completely removed-your gingivitis may resolve itself, as long as you are compliant with your cleaning routine at home. The technique of cleaning is just as important as the work you had done in the office. If you aren’t cleaning properly the gingivitis could get worse.
Good oral care consists of flossing, brushing correctly and rinsing. When brushing, use a soft bristled tooth brush with rounded bristles. Hard bristles can be sharp and cut the gums. Brushing should last at least 3 to 5 minutes twice a day-but preferably after every meal. Brush the outer side of the teeth and gums in a short up and down motion and then in a back and forth motion. Angle the brush at 45 degrees when brushing, rather than just scrubbing with the bristles straight on the surface of the teeth. This angle best removes plaque.
Flossing is one of the most important parts of oral care because it removes food particles from in between the teeth. Be more concerned about flossing and the technique you use while brushing, than the kind of toothpaste you use. As long as you are using fluoride toothpaste, a cheap brand is just as good as an expensive brand.
Source: Mayo Clinic information page