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It can be scary to find out you have gingivitis. Many patients have a lot of questions, starting with whether it is reversible and what you can do to treat it.
The good news is that gingivitis is treatable, and you can usually clear it up in about two weeks with diligent oral care. Gum disease is surprisingly common; over 40% of adults over 30 have it. But if you catch it early, it can be simple to reverse.
What Exactly is Gingivitis
We know you’ve heard the term before, but do you really know what gingivitis means? In short, gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease. It is often caused by plaque build-up that results from poor oral hygiene but can also result from bad nutrition, infection, smoking, certain medications, and other causes. Your chances of getting gingivitis increase with age and during pregnancy.
Gingivitis is caused when bacteria build up at the gum line. These bacteria feed on the sugary foods we eat and drink, and they produce acids that cause tooth decay and irritate gums. An excess of this bacteria can cause gingivitis.
Symptoms can that can show up in your gums include redness, pain, bleeding, and swelling. You may also notice bad breath and sensitivity. If not treated, these symptoms can escalate into more serious periodontal disease. And, while early on, gingivitis can be easily treated, more severe gum disease can result in permanent damage to your oral health.
As we mentioned, noticing gingivitis early means you can reverse it quickly. The more committed you are to your oral care routine, the sooner you will see relief.
Brush Your Teeth Thoroughly
The first step in both preventing and treating gingivitis is to evaluate whether you are brushing your teeth properly. Speeding through the motions on your way out the door in the morning or as an afterthought on your way to bed may not be enough.
If you want to reverse gingivitis, set a timer and brush your teeth twice a day for two full minutes. Make sure you angle your toothbrush towards your gums to thoroughly clean the gum line. Be gentle, as brushing too hard can damage enamel and irritate gums.
Get a New Toothbrush
Make sure you are changing out your toothbrush every three months or as soon as you see the bristles begin to fray. An old toothbrush can harbor bacteria. Also, opt for a soft-bristled brush, which is less likely to hurt sensitive gums and is actually a better choice even if you don’t have gingivitis.
Floss Once a Day
Even if your gums bleed when you floss due to gingivitis, it is important to continue to floss (or start if you haven’t already). Be gentle, of course, and floss between each tooth to remove the plaque that contributes to gingivitis.
Eat Less Sugar
You have been told that sugar can cause cavities, but it also contributes to gum disease. The bacteria that contribute to gingivitis feed on sugars from our diet. Avoiding sugar can help cut down on those bacteria.
Salt Water Rinse
Rinsing with salt water is a safe and easy way to help disinfect the mouth. Mix a teaspoon of salt with warm water until dissolved and swish around your mouth for about 30 seconds at least 3 times per day.
See Your Dentist
The absolute best thing you can do to get rid of gingivitis fast is to listen to your dentist. We can evaluate the extent of your gum disease and determine what treatments are best. Your dentist can also let you know if professional treatments will help. Antibiotics or professional cleaning may be able to speed your progress along.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of gingivitis, call our office right away. The sooner you act, the more likely you can cure your gum disease fast.