Do you have swollen or bleeding gums? You might be having gingivitis. The Canadian Dental Hygienist Association reports that about 50% of Canadians are living with gingivitis. Unfortunately, many of them don’t even realize it and even those that suspect they have a gum infection don’t take the right steps to treat and avoid it. It’s a common gum disease that’s characterized by swelling and bleeding of gums. If this infection goes untreated, it can lead to permanent tooth loss. In this article, we’ll share some beneficial information on how to treat and avoid gingivitis.
Signs of a gum infection
When your gums are healthy, they are firm and fit tightly around your mouth. However, infected gums are dark red, often appear swollen and tender. A common sign of gingivitis is bleeding gums whenever you brush or floss. Some people even suffer from bad breath as a result of the infection. Gingivitis can also cause receding gums.
If gum disease is not treated early, it can lead to periodontitis. This is a serious condition that affects the tissues and bone in your mouth and can lead to tooth loss.
What puts you at risk of gingivitis?
Anyone can develop gum disease but there are certain factors that put some individuals at higher risk of gingivitis.
- Poor lifestyle habits like smoking and chewing tobacco
- People with poor oral hygiene (e.g. those who don’t brush and floss daily)
- Dry mouth
- Older individuals
- Hormonal changes
- Consuming medication for high blood pressure or seizures
- Individuals with crooked teeth that are harder to keep clean
- People living with conditions like HIV which compromise their immune system
What happens if you don’t seek treatment?
If you develop gingivitis but fail to seek treatment immediately, you are at risk of more serious conditions like periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss. Untreated gum disease has also been associated with putting you at a higher risk of some cancers, heart disease, and respiratory infections.
Tips to prevent gum disease
Good oral health care: Ensure you brush and floss your teeth at least twice every day. Brush the teeth for about two minutes every morning and before bedtime. It’s highly recommended that you brush your teeth after every snack and floss at least once daily to prevent food particles as well as bacteria from remaining in between your teeth.
Regular dental check-ups: When you visit the dentist for regular cleanings, he/she will be able to perform some assessments and advice on any impending gum infections. The dentist can notice signs of gingivitis early and recommend treatment to prevent the infection from spreading.
Last but not least, eat healthy foods and minimize sugar intake as much as possible to prevent gingivitis.
If you have developed gingivitis, approach the dentist who will use the best method to treat the infection. The dentist will perform a series of tests to determine what’s affected and advice on a suitable treatment plan that you should follow. You may be given some at-home treatments such as an antibacterial toothpaste or mouthwash, which clears away the plaque especially in those hard to reach places.