When you brush your teeth each day, you subconsciously check a box in your head that says you took good care of your teeth today. But brushing and flossing do far more than protect your teeth. It protects your gums too. And when we don’t take good care of our gums, it can cause gingivitis, which, when left untreated, can lead to periodontitis, which can cause premature tooth loss.

What You Need to Know About Gingivitis

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 46% of all adults aged 30 years or older show signs of gum disease, and severe gum disease affects about 9% of adults. Gingivitis, or gum disease, occurs when dental plaque builds up on your teeth, causing inflammation around your gum tissue. This dental plaque contains sticky bacteria that cause the gums to become red or puffy and may cause bleeding. Here are some common signs that you might have gingivitis.

  • Swollen or puffy gums: Bacterial toxins created when we don’t brush or floss properly can lead to inflamed gum tissues .
  • Bleeding gums: Plaque that isn’t effectively removed each day through brushing and flossing hardens into tartar, which leads to an increased risk of bleeding gums.
  • Dark red gums: Healthy gums are light pink in color. But when your gums become inflamed due to bacteria build-up, they can also become dark red or dusky red in color.
  • Gum recession: Your gums may begin to recede if you brush your teeth too aggressively, if you let your floss snap back against your gums, if you smoke, etc. When brushing your teeth, use a gentle approach with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Halitosis (bad breath): You may develop bad breath as the bacteria in your mouth release chemicals.
  • Gum tenderness: The longer plaque and tartar remain on your teeth without effective removal, the more it will cause irritation to your gingiva, the part of the gums around the base of your teeth.

Gingivitis is sneaky.

Not only is it important to know the signs and symptoms of gum disease, but you should also be aware of the various risk factors. This is because gingivitis can quickly, easily, and silently progress into a very aggressive stage of gum disease (periodontitis) when left untreated. You are at increased risk of developing gum disease if any of the following applies to you.

  • Smoking or use of tobacco products
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Heredity and genetics
  • Crooked teeth
  • Underlying immune-deficiencies such as AIDS
  • Defective fillings
  • Use of medications or other prescriptions that have dry mouth as a side effect
  • Your dental bridge no longer fits properly
  • Pregnancy or the use of oral contraceptives

And when gum disease is left untreated, it can eventually lead to problems such as:

  • Tooth loss
  • Bone loss
  • Gum recession

Treating gingivitis takes discipline.

As with any illness, treating it requires discipline, both on the part of the patients and their medical or dental provider. And, the same holds true for gingivitis. Thankfully, treating gingivitis, and preventing it in the first place, isn’t all that difficult. Here’s what you need to do.

1. Make sure you are paying a visit to your dentist every six months.

Whether you visit the best Plano, TX, dentist or have a dentist elsewhere, preventive dentistry can help ensure that target buildup is effectively scraped away so it can’t lead to further issues. During each appointment, your dentist will conduct a professional dental cleaning, which can help you get to all those places that are hard to reach on your own. Further, your dentist will perform an oral examination, checking for signs of oral cancer or other issues. The further you get in front of a potential problem, the higher your chances are for effective treatment and full recovery.

2. Practice good oral care at home.

Start a vigorous oral hygiene routine at home if you don’t have one. Start by finding a mouthwash that is designed for gum disease. We recommend Listerine Antiseptic Mouthwash, Crest ProHealth Clinical Rinse, or TheraBreath Healthy Gums Oral Rinse. Find a soft-bristled toothbrush with a comfortable handle, and ensure you brush twice a day for two minutes at a time. If you have challenges brushing for two minutes, consider using a tooth-brushing app such as Brushy or Dental Anywhere. If apps aren’t your thing, find a two-minute song you love and add it to your playlist. Play it at toothbrushing time and rock out while you brush away that harmful bacteria. Finally, make sure you know how to floss properly. Floss at least once a day, preferably before you go to bed and when you’re finished eating for the day.

3. Eat tooth-friendly foods.

We all know the importance of eating a well-balanced diet. Some foods are better for your teeth than others. And, these foods tend to be good for your body too. Instead of munching on potato chips when you are hungry, enjoy some yogurt or cheese. Snack on some apples or pears if you are craving something sweet. Drink tea or coffee instead of soft drinks if you are thirsty. And make sure you get enough fatty fish and lean protein in your diet too.

Save your natural teeth and prevent gingivitis.

The same steps you take to preserve your natural teeth can help you prevent gingivitis too. And trust us, it is worth the time it takes to care for your teeth and prevent periodontitis. If you are overdue for a dental cleaning or you suspect you may have gum disease, now is the time to request an appointment with Millennium Dental in Plano, Texas. Together, we’ll create a plan to help you protect your teeth and gums and prevent gingivitis.