Gingivitis is the first level of gum disease, and it is something that most people have to deal with. While hearing that you have gum disease is scary, it is essential to understand the different levels of this condition. On its own, gingivitis is not dangerous, but it can become hazardous if it is not addressed.
What Is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is defined as the irritation or inflammation of the gum around the tooth base. When it is monitored and controlled, gingivitis will remain as just an irritation. Unfortunately, when it is not controlled, it can progress into periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease that results in bleeding gums, infection, tenderness, and even tooth loss. Gingivitis forms because food particles and bacteria in your mouth create something called plaque, a thin, invisible film on your teeth. Plaque develops every day, but because it is typically removed with proper at-home oral hygiene, it is not something to be overly concerned about. If the plaque is not removed, however, it hardens around and under the gumline and forms pockets that collect bacteria. The formation of these pockets is a sign of periodontitis, which is dangerous if not treated promptly. Gingivitis is easily controlled; periodontitis is not.
How Can You Prevent Gingivitis at Home?
The best way to control gingivitis is with proper at-home maintenance. Standard practices like brushing, flossing, and rinsing are typically enough to keep the growth and spread of gingivitis at bay until you see your dentist for your bi-annual appointments. Just as you were taught when you were young, brushing your teeth is the very best way to protect your teeth. You should brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and a fluoride toothpaste that will not irritate the gums. By brushing two times a day, you can control the plaque that develops from the food you’ve eaten. In addition to brushing, flossing at least once each day, preferably at night, will help ensure that plaque is not forming in between the teeth or around the gumline. Even if brushing and flossing your teeth are impossible since life occasionally gets in the way, you can still rinse your mouth with water. This simple act will typically prevent plaque from hardening and becoming tartar.
How Can Your Dentist Help?
While the process of controlling gingivitis is primarily an individual, at-home task, you still need to see your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings. Brushing and flossing will maintain a healthy mouth, but there is no way that they will remove every trace of gingivitis. Regular cleanings by your dentist will, and also allow your dentist the opportunity to check your teeth and gums for any other potential issues. Gingivitis may be gum disease, but it is reversible. By putting the effort in early, you can save yourself the pain, hassle, cost, and dangers of severe periodontal disease.
To learn more about how gingivitis develops, or how to treat advanced stages of periodontal disease, contact Dr. Fiss by calling (312) 951-5230 or by filling out our online contact form.