Gums play an important role in oral health. They help protect and support your teeth as well as the tissue that keeps teeth attached to the bone. When gums are not taken care of, you risk damaging the tissue and, consequently, the teeth that they help protect.

How Gingivitis Starts

Gingivitis, also known as gum disease, starts in areas of the mouth that you are not brushing regularly and keeping clean. Bacteria accumulate in a film on the tooth’s surface, which causes inflammation. This inflammation or swelling of the gums is usually the first sign of gingivitis.

Aside from poor dental hygiene, gingivitis may also develop from the use of tobacco products, are pregnant, have diabetes, or have a genetic predisposition to gum disease.

Preventing Gingivitis

The best means of preventing gingivitis is through a good dental routine and proper hygiene practices. It is important to start as early as possible, so it becomes a regular part of your lifestyle. Of course, brushing teeth properly is the first step towards prevention of gingivitis.

Complete cleaning with a good quality toothbrush and floss should last three to five minutes. Flossing before brushing is essential as it helps soften food particles and bacteria. It also cleans the in-between of teeth, which are areas a regular toothbrush cannot reach, ensuring maximum bacteria removal and teeth cleaning.

Make it a habit to visit your dentist or dental hygienist on a regular basis. Ideally, every 6 to 12 months should be the interval of your visits. If you identify any risk factors that increase your chance of getting gum disease, you may need more frequent cleanings and dental examinations. Example of people who have increased risk of developing gingivitis are those who are wearing braces or dental crowns that are poorly fitted.

For your dental hygiene products, use mouthwash that contains plaque-fighting and anti-bacterial formula. Keep in mind that mouth rinse and mouthwash are very different in that mouthwashes are specifically designed to remove bacteria from teeth while rinse solutions mainly freshen up the breath and leave your mouth with a cool, relaxing sensation.

Eat a well-balanced diet that helps promote oral care. Green tea, for example, is rich with catechins, which are complex compounds that combat inflammation and control bacterial buildup. Other superfoods worth trying are strawberries and kiwis, onions, Shiitake mushrooms, and low-acid, fibrous fruits and veggies.

Treating Gingivitis

Treatment of gum disease usually starts with the removal of the root cause – teeth plaque – by your dentist or dental hygienist. They would then clean the surrounding areas, from top to bottom. This is where most of the bacterial buildup is found and where the most damage ensues. This deep-cleaning process is known as scaling.

If the problem persists, your dentist will likely look at other possible causes of plaque, such as loose fillings or dental crowns. You may be requested to undergo an oral X-ray to check for any bone loss or damage. If the gingivitis is severe or persists over time, your only option may be to undergo surgery.