From bad breath and swollen gums to bleeding when you brush, the signs of gingivitis should never be ignored. Here, DR THEAN TSIN PIAO of Aesthete Smilestudio shares why gingivitis should be taken seriously, and five things you can do to control plaque and tartar build-up to prevent it in the first place.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums, usually caused by a bacterial infection. Common symptoms of gingivitis include:
- tender or swollen gums;
- gums that bleed when you brush or floss your teeth;
- bad breath that doesn’t go away after you brush;
- sensitive teeth;
- loose teeth; and
- pain when chewing;
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact a dentist as soon as possible, as gum disease can be reversed in its very early stages.
Once gum disease has advanced, antibiotic treatments, and even surgery, might be necessary.
How serious is gingivitis?
If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to a more serious form of gum infection called periodontitis. This is a serious infection that can damage the soft tissue and bones that hold your teeth in place, causing your gums to separate from your teeth. This can result in tooth loss and other complications.
Additionally, gum disease is linked to an increased risk of other health problems. Because inflamed gums allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream, there’s more potential for infection throughout the body. Not only is gum disease associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart disease, but there’s also evidence that mismanaged gum disease can make it difficult to manage diabetes.
What causes gingivitis in the first place?
The most common cause of gingivitis is the accumulation of plaque build-up at the gum-line. Plaque is a thin film of bacteria that forms on your teeth when the food and bacteria in your mouth interact. Even if you take excellent care of your teeth, you’ve still got plaque forming on a daily basis. While it’s perfectly normal for that plaque to form, it must be removed daily with brushing and flossing.
If plaque is not removed from your teeth regularly, it hardens into tartar (also known as calculus). This tartar creates a protective shield for trapping in bacteria that eventually irritates your gums and causes inflammation. The tartar buildup also makes it much harder to brush and floss as you should, putting you at a greater risk of tooth decay and cavities.
Also, once plaque turns into tartar, it can only be removed by a professional with special tools. So, don’t let plaque and tartar build up!
How to prevent plaque and tartar build-up
Luckily, there are things you can to control plaque and tartar build-up – and save yourself from swollen gums, bad breath and the potentially damaging effects of gum disease. Here are some key ways to prevent gingivitis.
#1 Brush twice a day
To get rid of all that bacteria in your mouth, you need to brush at least twice a day – in the morning, and the last thing before you go to bed at night. But don’t be fooled into thinking a 20-second scrub will suffice. Two minutes of scrubbing is what it takes to get the job done!
#2 Floss every night!
No matter how good you are with your toothbrush, it’s imperative that you remove the plaque between your teeth and keep tartar out of those hard-to-reach places with dental floss.
#3 Use a fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse
Using a fluoride toothpaste and rinse daily can help protect your tooth enamel from plaque. Rinse for a full minute at a time, and ideally after your bedtime brushing and flossing.
#4 See a dentist regularly
In addition to good oral hygiene practices, visits to the dentist every four to six months are a must to make sure the residual plaque accumulation isn’t too excessive. This is key to the prevention of gingivitis and other serious complication of gum disease.
#5 Stop smoking
Of course, smoking is linked to all sorts of serious health problems including cancer. It can also lead poor gum health and gingivitis – and, of course, bad breath. So, it’s best to avoid smoking and chewing tobacco not just to reduce cancer risk, but for better gum health too.
Aesthete Smilestudio is at #02-04 Clifford Centre, 24 Raffles Place. To make an appointment, call 6438 3811 or visit aesthetesmilestudio.com.
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