man brushing teeth to avoid gingivitis

Gingivitis might not sound like a big deal. But as the first stage of gum disease, it matters a whole lot more than you might expect. By preventing gingivitis, you can actually prevent periodontal disease. Since periodontitis can lead to tooth loss, bone loss, the need for extensive restorative treatment, and potentially complicate other health problems, keeping it out of your life is for the best.

You can become a gingivitis expert and spot problems at home. Then, check in with your dentist before gum inflammation turns into gum infection. Noticing gingivitis symptoms can be a little tricky, as some are extremely subtle. So this should really be part of a larger exercise in which you get acquainted with your teeth and gums, and notice when they’re changing (even in small ways).

Don’t want to worry about noticing gingivitis? All you need to do is avoid it in the first place. We’ve included tips below that will help you prevent plaque buildup and keep your smile healthy and happy.

What Does Gingivitis Look Like?

The most common gingivitis symptoms include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Dark red or dark purple gums
  • Swollen, puffy gums
  • Painful, tender gums
  • Receding gums
  • Pockets forming between teeth and gums
  • Bad breath that doesn’t go away
  • A bad taste in the mouth
  • Teeth feeling loose
  • Bite changing / teeth shifting
  • Fit of dentures or partials changing

It is entirely possible that you may have gingivitis without seeing these symptoms. This is part of the reason why twice-yearly dental exams are crucial. Often, only a dental professional can tell if plaque is building up on your teeth and tooth roots.

How Does Gingivitis Become Gum Disease?

Plaque is constantly attempting to take hold of your teeth. Habits like brushing and flossing disrupt plaque formation, brushing away bacteria before they become a sticky layer. But if brushing and flossing falter, plaque will progress. After enough time with plaque in place, your gums will react. This is because that layer of plaque is giving rise to acids that irritate the soft tissues in your mouth. The gums may become inflamed or show other signs of irritation.

If the plaque layer is not removed, it will harden into tartar. This is more difficult to remove and even more irritating to the gums. Over time, the gums may become infected, progressing to periodontal disease. At this point, you will require dental care to improve your oral health and take back your teeth and gums. But during gingivitis, it’s actually possible to reverse the inflammation without invasive treatment – all you need is better oral hygiene (and, as always, a healthy diet). This is why we emphasize early detection.

Am I At Heightened Risk for Gingivitis?

There are certain factors that make you more or less likely to succumb to gingivitis or periodontal disease. If you fall into one or more high risk categories, you may benefit from seeing your dentist more often. Ask Dr. Hoffman what makes sense for your smile at your next exam.

Gingivitis risk factors include:

  • Inadequate oral hygiene
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Diabetes
  • Age (older individuals are more likely to develop gum disease)
  • Compromised immune system
  • Certain medications (always let your dentist know when you start a new medication)
  • Dry mouth
  • Fluctuating hormones during pregnancy, puberty, or menopause
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Excessive alcohol or drug use
  • Poor-fitting dentures

How to Combat Gingivitis At Home

We’ve mentioned that the primary cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene. You should always remember that your brushing and flossing need to be an ongoing effort. Every day adds up to a healthy smile, and effective oral hygiene needs to be a component of your regular life. We’re in an ongoing battle against oral bacteria and acids, and oral hygiene fights them back to keep your teeth strong and disease-free.

If you notice your gums getting puffy and tender, kicking your brushing and flossing into high gear will make a difference. Plaque can still be removed at home if it hasn’t hardened into tartar. Read up on proper brushing and flossing techniques to make sure you’re cleaning effectively. If you forget to brush or floss, put a reminder next to your bed or on your bathroom mirror (or set an alarm on your phone at the appropriate times). Also, make sure your toothbrush isn’t older than 3 months and that you have the right toothpaste for your needs. Ask your hygienist if you’re looking for product recommendations!

You might also benefit from using a mouthwash. An antiseptic rinse will help remove bad bacteria and you can easily use it on the go.

Last but definitely not least, take a second look at your diet. Healthy, well-rounded sources of nutrients are building blocks for your smile and your entire body, no matter your age. Put down the processed snack foods and go for fresh produce and low-sugar options. Maintaining chewing ability has actually been show to help prevent dementia, and eating fresh fruit and vegetables cleanses your teeth and keeps them strong.

Looking for more gingivitis-battling tips? Get in touch!

Macomb General Dentist | General Dentist Macomb | General Dentistry Macomb