Gingivitis is an oral condition caused by plaque buildup. This sticky, bacterial film coats the teeth and gums, leading to cavities and gum disease. Once this harmful bacterial film lingers in your mouth, toxins are released by the bacterial activity that irritates your gums. You’ll likely notice that they look red, are inflamed to the point of puffiness and tend to bleed when brushing and flossing.
Gingivitis is the biggest reason adults find themselves battling bleeding gums, so please don’t ignore the signs! Commit to treating your gums with preventative measures early so gingivitis doesn’t progress into periodontal disease. Plus, treating gingivitis in the early stages often reverses the condition altogether! This means taking good care of your mouth at home and visiting your dentist regularly!
Lower Your Risk of Gingivitis
- Get rid of plaque before it hardens: Don’t just clean plaque off of your teeth with your daily brushing, but clean around the gum line. This means brushing and flossing consistently every day even when tempted to be lax during summer’s lazier months.
- Quit smoking or using tobacco in any form: This seriously harmful habit doesn’t just increase your odds of getting gum disease but also lowers your chances of effectively treating it. If you smoke, you are seven times more likely to incur gum disease than nonsmokers.
- Lower your stress levels: Whatever helps you relieve stress, do more of that. Meditating, deep breathing, yoga stretches, walks outside, find something that helps relax you and do it daily. Unchecked stress lowers your immune system so it’s harder to fight infections like gum disease.
- Step up your teeth and gum care when undergoing hormonal changes: You’re more susceptible to gum disease during pregnancy, menopause and your monthly cycle. Be sure to take some extra time caring for your mouth while your body navigates these physiological changes.
- Eat healthy foods: Support your body’s ability to fight infections by getting the nutrients it needs. Consume more fatty fish, nuts and seeds for their omega-3s, milk and cheese for anti-bacterial enzymes, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir for probiotics, colorful fruits and vegetables for vitamins and anti-inflammatory properties, Shiitake mushrooms that attack gum disease-causing bacteria, and chicken for it’s co-enzyme 10 (CoQ10) and collagen.
Signs Gingivitis is Progressing
- Red, swollen gums visible when you look in the mirror
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss around them
- Persistent sore gums
- Tooth pain or sensitivity as the gums pull away from your teeth
- Chronic halitosis from excessive bacterial buildup releasing toxins
- Loose teeth or an altered bite
Gingivitis Diagnosis and Treatment
Our periodontal team can diagnose your gingivitis after a thorough examination. We will check your gums looking for plaque and inflammation, take X-rays to determine bone loss, go over your medical and dental history and measure the pocket depth of your gums with a probe. Once we diagnose gingivitis, a scaling and root planing treatment will likely be recommended.
Scaling and root planing is a deep cleaning broken into two parts. First, our periodontist removes all the stubborn plaque and tartar with a deep cleaning above and below the gumline down to the bottom of the gum pocket. Next comes the root planing, where our periodontist smoothes out your teeth roots so your gums can reattach to your teeth. Scaling and root planing often take several visits as we treat one side of the mouth and then the other side. A bacteria-fighting mouth rinse may be prescribed to support your treatment. A follow-up visit will also be scheduled to make sure your gum pockets are healing properly and looking healthy.
Maintain At-Home Results
Brush your teeth after meals and snacks and maybe even consider investing in a powered toothbrush that can do a thorough cleaning job. Now more than ever, flossing between teeth and around the gum line daily is crucial as is keeping all recommended dental cleanings. Your healthy gums are worth fighting for!