Also known as gingivitis in its earlier stages, and periodontal disease in its later stages, gum disease is a bacterial infection that affects the gums and the bone surrounding the teeth. Gum disease could range from a simple case of bleeding gums to severe cases of bone loss and gum recession. It may affect one or several teeth and may range from gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue) to periodontitis (loss of the bone that anchors the teeth). When you realize that you have gum disease, you will probably start wondering about how to treat gum disease. There are several gum disease treatment methods, including home remedies and medical options. Your dentist Bolton can help you choose the ideal treatment option to treat any stage of gum disease. In Canada, gum disease is more common than you might think. Statistics indicate that 47.2% of people of 30 years and above have a form of gum disease. The risk of developing gum disease increases with age. In fact, 70.1% of people aged 65 years and above have gum disease in Canada. Home remedies for periodontal disease are safe to use. However, you should seek medical attention before using the home remedies if you have a medical condition, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If your situation doesn’t improve with the home remedies or if you experience pain and bleeding, you should seek immediate treatment.
Figure 1. Gum disease statistics of people over 30 years old.
Common Gum Disease Risk Factors
In many cases, signs of gum disease do not appear until the disease is well established. Therefore, you may have gum disease and not show any symptoms. It is important to understand the common risk factors for gum diseases to help you stay alert. You may be at a higher or lower risk of gum disease based on your lifestyle, genetics, diet, and other routine factors. Below are the common risk factors for gum disease:
Tobacco Use and Smoking – Many studies reveal that smoking and using tobacco could significantly increase your gum disease risk.
Hormones – Research indicates that certain hormones associated with pregnancy, puberty, and menopause could increase a woman’s risk of gum disease. During these times, a woman should pay extra attention to her oral care.
Genetics – If you have a history of gum disease or your family members have gum disease; you are more susceptible to the disease. Therefore, you should visit a dentist regularly and pay close attention to your oral care.
Stress – High-stress levels could make it hard for the body to fight infections, including gum disease.
Medical Conditions – Certain medical conditions like diabetes are associated with a higher risk of gum disease. Treatments like chemotherapy or treatments for other conditions like AIDS and cancer could increase your risk of periodontal disease. Illnesses compromise your immunity and make you more susceptible to gum disease.
Family History – Some people are more prone to gum disease due to their heredity. You might be at an increased risk of gum disease if some of your family members suffered from the disease.
Medication –Taking certain medications that dry your mouth and increase your tartar buildup could put you at a higher risk of gum disease. Medications that could put you at a higher risk of gum disease include steroids, oral contraceptives, anticonvulsants, chemotherapy, and medications for high blood pressure.
Crooked teeth, broken fillings, and dental appliances that do not fit properly could also put you at a higher risk of gum disease. It is important to visit a dentist regularly, especially if you know that you are at a high risk of gum disease.
What Is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is an inflammation of your gums that results from a bacterial infection. If you fail to seek prompt treatment, the condition may worsen, causing a more severe condition known as periodontitis. There are several gingivitis stages ranging from mild to severe. Both gingivitis and periodontitis are major causes of tooth loss. Severe gum infection puts both your health and money at stake; the more advanced a dental condition, the more expensive it is to treat. Seeking timely treatment before gingivitis progresses to periodontitis could save you a lot of hassle.
How To Avoid Gingivitis
The first-line treatment option for gingivitis is practicing good oral hygiene before moving to other home remedies. Home remedies won’t work if you aren’t taking good care of your teeth and gums. Below are ways in which you can avoid gingivitis:
- Brush your teeth regularly ( twice per day); if you can manage, brush your teeth after every meal.
- Maximize your cleaning potential by opting for an electric toothbrush
- The toothbrush you use needs to have soft or extra-soft bristles to avoid bruising your inflamed gums
- Ensure you replace your toothbrush after every three months
- Use a natural mouthwash
- Floss daily
- Limit your sugar intake
- Try to visit your dentist at least once every year
- Refrain from chewing or smoking tobacco
Maintaining good oral hygiene is a proven way of avoiding gingivitis and other dental problems. You could embrace using a conventional saline water rinse after cleaning your teeth.
Periodontitis and Gingivitis Symptoms
Many people rarely realize that they have gum disease until it is too late. Most people have gum disease without showing any gum infection symptoms. There are several typical gingivitis signs that you should look for in your daily routine. If you notice any of the outlined signs, you should do something about your gum health.
- Gums that are tender, swollen, or red
- Your gums bleed whenever you brush or floss your teeth
- You have receding gums, or gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Your teeth are loose
- You have a malocclusion or a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Collection of pus between your teeth and gums
- Sensitive teeth
- Experiencing pain while chewing
- Your partial dentures no longer fit
- A persistent smelly breath that doesn’t fade even if you brush your teeth
- A bad taste in your mouth
- Heightened tooth sensitivity to cold or hot foods could indicate that you have an underlying gum condition
It’s important to note that gum disease symptoms are likely to appear when the disease is well-established. Therefore, it is possible that you have gingivitis or periodontitis even if you do not notice any of the outlined symptoms.
How to Prevent Gum Disease?
You can prevent gum disease by practicing proper and consistent oral hygiene that includes:
- Visiting your dentist regularly – Visiting a dentist regularly allows him or her to identify the early signs of gum disease. In its early stages, gum disease does not have any symptoms. The only way to spot a gum infection in the early stages is through a dental exam.
- Cleaning your teeth regularly – You should brush your teeth twice a day or preferably after every meal. Ensure that you use fluoride toothpaste whenever you brush your teeth.
- Flossing daily – If food particles get between the teeth, it might be difficult to remove them through brushing. Flossing helps you remove food particles lodged between your teeth.
- Sticking to a balanced diet.
How to Diagnose Gum Disease?
The treatment for gum disease is aimed at removing bacterial deposits and plaque from the teeth and gums. The treatment can be either surgical or non-surgical. Patients can benefit from various home remedies for the treatment of gum disease. When determining the ideal treatment, the dentist considers how far the gum disease has progressed.
Cleaning your teeth
By keeping your teeth and gums clean, you can significantly reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth. Your dentist will advise you on how to brush and floss properly. The dentist may also recommend other teeth cleaning procedures like mouthwash and water pick. Below are teeth cleaning tips to prevent gum disease:
- Brush your teeth twice daily.
- Electric toothbrush is more effective so it’s recommended to use one.
- Remove plaque by flossing once daily.
- Visit your dentist for professional teeth cleaning twice a year.
- Don’t chew or smoke tobacco.
Your dentist may recommend surgical treatment if gum inflammation persists in areas that are hard to access through brushing and flossing. Through a flap surgery procedure, the dentist will access and clean the deposits beneath your gums. The dentist will conduct this procedure under local anesthesia by lifting away the gums and cleaning the tooth roots. The dentist then stitches the gum back into place.
In some cases, your dentist may recommend antibiotics as a treatment for gum disease. The dentist is likely to recommend antibiotics if you have a persistent gum infection that doesn’t respond to cleanings and home remedies. Medications used for gum treatment may be in the form of gel, mouthwash, capsules, or oral tablets. Chlorhexidine is an antimicrobial medication used in controlling gingivitis and plaque in the mouth. The medication is often applied in the periodontal pockets. Other antibiotics that come in handy in treating gum disease include tetracycline, doxycycline, and minocycline, also known as Arestin. Your dentist will determine the right medication to treat gum disease.
Home remedies for the treatment of gum disease include:
Salt-water treatment – A study conducted in 2016 revealed that using saltwater to rinse your mouth is effective in soothing and healing inflamed gums. Salt serves as a natural disinfectant that comes in handy in helping the body heal itself. Saltwater treats gingivitis by:
- Soothing inflamed gums
- Helping soothe pain
- Reducing bacteria
- Removing food particles from the teeth and gums
- Releasing bad breath
How should you prepare a salt solution to use as a mouth rinse?
- Add salt, ½ to ¾ teaspoon, into a glass of lukewarm water and stir
- Swish the salt solution in your mouth regularly for around 30 seconds
- Spit out the salt solution
- Repeat this procedure two or three times daily
Tea Tree Oil
A study conducted in 2020 revealed that tea tree oil mouthwash is effective in the treatment of gingivitis. Here’s what you should do to use the tea tree oil mouthwash:
- Put two to three drops of tea tree oil in a cup and add warm water
- Swish the mouthwash in your mouth for around thirty seconds
- Spit out the solution
- Repeat this procedure two to three times a day
You may also add a drop or two of tea tree oil to your toothpaste while brushing your teeth. Use a highly diluted tea tree oil mouthwash while using the solution for the first time. Using very high concentrations of tea tree oil could cause mild burning, rash, or allergic reactions. You should also be careful if you are on certain medication because tea tree oil could react with herbs, certain drugs, dietary supplements.
When is it Recommended to See a Dentist
You have a chance of making a quick and full recovery if you treat your gingivitis as soon as possible. If you leave gingivitis untreated for long periods, it might cause serious damage to your teeth. It could also cause other health complications. Below are signs that you should see a dentist:
- Bad breath
- Gums that bleed a lot
- Tooth pain or persistent sensitivity
- Visibly inflamed or swollen gums
When you visit your dentist, the dentist may clean your teeth or refer you to a periodontist. In some instances, the dentist may prescribe antibiotics or mouthwash. The dentist may also teach you to use several dental products and tools to keep your gums healthy. Your dentist Bolton may also call you for additional cleaning and further guidance on practicing good oral hygiene. In some rare cases, surgery may be necessary to treat gum disease.
How Long Does it Usually Take to Get Rid of Gingivitis?
The signs of gingivitis will start to improve after a few days of treatments. However, it may take some time for the symptoms to fade completely. Usually, it takes between 10 and 14 days to clear the symptoms of gingivitis completely. It might take longer to treat your gingivitis if it is more serious. After gingivitis treatment, it is important to ensure that you take charge of your dental health to prevent the condition from recurring. Makes sure to stay in close contact with your dentist if you are at a high risk of gingivitis.