Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums surrounding the teeth caused by plaque build up on the teeth and gums. Gingivitis is the initial stage of gum disease, and thus, should not be ignored when it appears in the mouth. Almost everyone will experience gingivitis at some point in his/her mouth. The good thing about gingivitis is that it is easy to treat when caught in its early stage. Classic symptoms of gingivitis are red, swollen, and tender gums that may bleed while brushing the teeth. Often, people have receding gums from gingivitis that make the teeth appear elongated.
Gingivitis is typically caused when people do not floss their teeth on a daily basis. Flossing removes plaque from between the teeth that a toothbrush can not get to. When people choose not to floss, they are leaving plaque between the teeth that damages the gums and can eventually lead to periodontal disease and tooth loss. Contrary to what many people believe, flossing should not be painful and it should not cause the gums to bleed. Healthy gums are firm, light pink in color, and do not bleed – even when pushed or poked. People who have bleeding gums while flossing are simply not flossing enough. Irritated gums bleed, healthy gums do not.
Proper flossing, brushing the teeth, and visiting the dentist on a regular basis all work together to promote optimal oral health. Gingivitis does not form in healthy mouths, but it does form in mouths that are overrun with plaque. Good oral hygiene is essential to preventing gingivitis, and that is something you have control over.
Posted on behalf of Dan Myers
Seeing your Registered Dental Hygienist for regular preventive care appointments, including routine dental cleaning and checkups, is part of a comprehensive oral health care plan. For most patients, routine dental cleanings are needed about every 6 months to remove tartar deposits above and just below the gumlines. It’s understandable for many people to neglect their preventive appointments due to moving, lapses in insurance coverage, but your dental hygienist will work to help get your dental health back on track starting with your first appointment.
Regular professional tartar removal is necessary because the bacteria that live in these deposits cause the detachment of gum tissue and bone loss around the teeth. When tartar is not removed, it leads to periodontal disease and tooth loss. In addition to dental cleanings, your hygienist will work closely with you to help identify problem areas and method to use to improve your oral health.
Gum disease doesn’t just affect your oral health, but it is directly associated with systemic disease conditions as well. Patients with untreated periodontal (gum) disease are also at an increased risk to have cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and premature labor, just to name a few.
In addition to simply having the tartar removed from your teeth, hygienists are also licensed to perform oral cancer screenings, nutritional counseling, take x-rays, apply dental sealants, conduct periodontal needs evaluations, and screen for tooth decay or aging restorations.
Seeing your dentist regularly for routine preventive care appointments helps keep your teeth and gums healthy, allowing you to keep your smile healthy for a longer time. It also allows your dentist to identify problems or decay before becoming more invasive, saving tooth structure and the cost of advanced treatment needs if they were addressed later on when they begin to be symptomatic.
The millions of naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths form a sticky film called plaque that adheres to the surfaces of our teeth. Unless this layer of plaque is removed, it hardens and creates tartar (or calculus). Removing plaque before it hardens prevents the formation of tartar and also prevents the bacteria from damaging the teeth and causing cavities. Plaque is easily removed but tartar can only be removed with professional help by a dentist or dental hygienist.
The key to controlling tartar and preventing plaque formation is maintaining healthy habits. By following a few simple habits with consistency, you can avoid plaque build up and have healthier teeth and gums.
Regular brushing with a soft bristle brush is the first habit that will avoid plaque build up. Brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque from the surfaces of your teeth.
Flossing once a day will remove plaque from areas where your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing removes plaque that forms between teeth and at the gumline. Be sure to floss gently to avoid irritating the gums.
Dental cleanings and checkups are important to remove tartar build up. Even those who practice good brushing and flossing habits will have some plaque build up that needs to be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist. Having your teeth cleaned once a year is the minimum and twice a year is even better.
In addition, adding crunchy, healthy foods to your diet can scrape off plaque between brushings. Raw carrots, celery, apples, and other crunchy fruits and vegetables can help keep your teeth free of plaque.
Finally, limit sweets and sugary drinks (especially soft drinks) to limit plaque formation. Bacteria feed on sugars and release acids that can damage your teeth.
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