You’ve likely heard of gingivitis before. Sometimes it’s thrown around lightly, sometimes not. Gingivitis is classified as periodontal disease. In layman’s terms, it’s a form of gum disease—albeit mild and common—that causes symptoms of swelling, irritation, and redness around the gingiva (the part of your gums adjacent to the base of your teeth).
Gingivitis is not a disease that you want. Over time, it can decrease your oral hygiene and give way to graver problems. Thus, it begs the question of how to prevent gingivitis? Read on for an overview of the prevention science and some gingivitis prevention tips.
What Exactly Causes Gingivitis?
How do we prevent something if we do not first identify the cause? Thus, it’s important to recognize that gingivitis is caused by the buildup of dental plaque, a natural biofilm that is breeding grounds for bacteria.
And what causes plaque to build up?
Usually, it’s poor dental hygiene.
Below are a few common causes that lead to poor hygiene and, thus, gingivitis.
If you’re concerned that you’re suffering from the condition, know that gingivitis is one of the most reversible forms of gum disease—even in its later stages!
- Smoking – Smoking cigarettes inhibits our natural immune system and causes plaque build-up on our teeth. Regular smokers are at higher risk of developing gingivitis1 and should stay vigilant in identifying symptoms and treating the condition. In this case, quitting smoking is the most advisable method for preventing infection.
- Poor Hygiene – If someone has poor hygiene, then the plaque build-ups can begin to turn into tartar. This then makes the plaque harder to remove. For instance, an infrequent brusher might have a more difficult time removing the plaque once it’s solidified into tartar. This then creates a safeguard for bacteria living along the gumline.
- Hereditary – It’s thought that gingivitis can be hereditary. Some people have a higher propensity towards developing it, despite their dental hygiene or health-related decisions. If either of your parents suffers from constant gingivitis, this can be a telltale sign that it might also affect your life, too.2
- Diabetes – People with diabetes tend to be at higher risk for developing infections—and this includes gum disease.
- Certain Medications – Various medications reduce the flow of saliva, which is one of the mouth’s safeguards against bacteria. Without the proper saliva, the mouth is more vulnerable to infections and, thus, gum disease. This is often an overlooked cause of gum disease gingivitis.
While there is a laundry list of gingivitis causes, the reality is that it often boils down to not taking care of your teeth. Plaque buildup is most rampant when there’s an absence of oral care, and that’s the very reason that gingivitis develops.
But disease, substance abuse, age, immunity, viral and fungal infections, and many other issues can all have a direct impact on the development of gingivitis.
How To Prevent Gingivitis
So how exactly do you actively prevent gingivitis? Truth be told, most prevention mechanics trace their roots to basic hygienic upkeep.
- Brush Your Teeth Daily – It’s advised that you brush your teeth twice a day, 2-minutes at a time, with a high-powered electric toothbrush. To get those hard-to-reach spots, you can also use interdental brushes that get even closer to the gums. Pay special attention to your gumline, pressing into it as you go about your cycle. By removing the plaque buildup and not allowing it to form into tartar, you mitigate the chances that gingivitis will develop.3 This is also very important when it comes to tooth decay prevention.
- Diet – By feeding your body the proper nutrients, you feed your immune system. The stronger your immunity, the better your ability to fight off infection and bacteria. A major focus here is antioxidants, being that Vitamin E and Vitamin C are extremely effective at restoring tissue.
- Quit Smoking – If you’re a smoker, then it’s likely you know how many diseases and medical conditions the extensive use of tobacco has been linked to. For one, the inhibited immune system has a difficult time fighting off infection. Two, smoking is linked to a higher risk of gum disease, meaning it’s harmful to the tissue.3
- Flossing – Another habitual and hygienic upkeep exercise, flossing helps remove plaque buildup from between the teeth—all the way down to the gum line. Flossing should be executed in tandem with brushing because they both work together to break up and remove plaque.
- Regular Dentist Check-Ups – A professional cleaning is going to be more effective at removing plaque than you will be at home. By consulting a hygienist and upkeeping your dentist visits, you can create the infrastructure that keeps plaque away from your teeth and gum line! Additionally, a dentist will be able to better identify the onset of gingivitis, allowing you to act quickly should symptoms begin to present themselves.3
- Antibacterial Mouthwash – Another fantastic gingivitis prevention tool is to use antibacterial mouthwash. It allows those hard-to-reach areas in the dental cavities to experience a healthy dose of bacteria-fighting particles.
While we could continue detailing how to prevent gingivitis—if you’re worried that you’re beginning to develop gum disease, it’s imperative that you visit a dentist, doctor, or hygienist to receive a professional evaluation. If left untreated, gingivitis can turn into periodontitis which is much graver.
Point being: we recommend that despite your active efforts in preventing gum disease, if you’re experiencing any symptoms, seek the advice of a dental hygienist.
When Prevention Fails, Gingivitis Symptoms
To piggyback on our last point, should you be worried about developing gum disease, what are the symptoms of gingivitis? Again, should you experience any of these unpleasant symptoms, it’s paramount that you seek the help of a licensed medical professional.
- Swollen and Bleeding Gums – Are you noticing some blood every time you brush? How about when you floss? If this is a consistent problem, then it could be a sign that you’ve developed—or are currently developing—gum disease. Bleeding typically means that the gums were irritated before you started brushing or flossing, which is usually due to bacteria.
- Poor Taste and Breath – Do you have a constant bad taste in your mouth? Are you constantly experiencing bad breath despite your best efforts to brush and floss? This could be due to the presence of bacteria buildup (plaque). In the early stages, a professional cleaning can usually correct this issue. Bad breath could have nothing to do with gingivitis, and if isn’t a serious condition, check out how to cure bad breath naturally.
- White Spots (plaque on gums) – If you have visible white spots forming on your gums, then this is cause for concern. Typically, it’s the formation of sturdy and hard-to-break plaque that’s built up over time.
- Pus In The Gums – It should go without saying that pus is a red flag when it comes to infection. If any of your gums are inflamed to the point that they’re also producing pus, go to a dentist or doctor immediately.
- Spaces Opening Between Teeth – If your teeth aren’t necessarily shifting, but the gaps between them are opening, this could be due to damaged and unhealthy gums (i.e., gum disease). Again, this is a graver symptom that needs to be examined thoroughly by a medical professional.
Should you notice any of the above symptoms, we encourage you to take action immediately.
Is Gum Disease Reversible?
Regarding the prevention of gingivitis and treatment, if you’re to develop gum disease, you might be wondering if it’s reversible.
The good news is that early-stage gum disease—when properly identified—is almost always reversible. Believe it or not, the most common remedy is a thorough (professional) deep cleaning from a dental hygienist, a fresh pack of floss, and some antibacterial toothpaste.
With that being said, the later stages of gum disease can manifest into something more serious, potentially causing permanent damage to the gumline and teeth.
The Importance Of Brushing
Your parents probably didn’t nag you to brush your teeth every night because it was a tradition of their time. In reality, gum disease’s biggest enemy is proper oral hygiene. By removing food particles, plaque, and any other bacteria from your teeth—you massage the gums and increase blood flow to the tissue.
And aside from the prevention of gingivitis, gum care is essential for your long-term health. Your mouth, being that it constantly intakes foreign particles, is vulnerable to many ailments and bacteria. It’s quite literally an opening in your body. You need to do everything that you can to keep it healthy, clean, and safeguarded.
What’s the best foundation? Consistent oral hygiene. Brushing twice a day is just a minimum. In all likelihood, every one of us could benefit from brushing with higher frequency and with better methods.
The Toothshower Way
Here at Toothshower, we take preventative oral care seriously. And we also know two things:
- While flossing is extremely important, it’s easily forgettable
- And while it’s easily forgettable, it’s extremely important
Thus, we’ve set out to give the world a product that simplifies the flossing process, is hassle-free, and can turn the exercise into an enjoyable endeavor. Utilize our in-shower flosser—while relaxing beneath hot water—to massage your gums and push away all that icky bacteria.
Once you’re done and the plaque has been dislodged, your brushing will remove any of the excess and cover the rest of the surface area. If you’re looking to prevent gingivitis, then this a fantastic way to start!
Stay vigilant. Make your oral hygiene a priority. Visit your dentist regularly. And mitigate the chances of you ever developing gum disease.
- US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. The Impact of Smoking on Gingiva: a Histopathological Study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4539769/
- Science Daily. Gum disease genes identified by researchers. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161004103649.htm
- National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Periodontal (Gum) Disease. https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/gum-disease/more-info#treatment