There is a common misconception that gum disease is always going to be painful. While more advanced stages of gum disease can lead to painfully swollen and tender gums, early-stage gum disease (also known as gingivitis) may not be painful at all. This very common disease is typically caused by bacteria forming in your mouth. These bacteria not only attack your teeth; they also attack your gums, leading to inflammation.
Although normally easily treated, if left alone too long, it can progress to periodontitis – a serious infection that damages tissue and even underlying bone. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to avoid reaching that critical stage, and for when you need help, we here at Alder Dental are always ready to help you learn how to maintain a healthy mouth that is free from both pain and irritation.
What Is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is typically an infection of the base layer of your gums (the gingiva) caused by bacterial biofilms. Biofilms are collections of bacteria that grow on the surfaces of your teeth. If the biofilms are not removed regularly, it can lead to gingivitis. This common form of gingivitis is known as plaque-induced gingivitis.
Gingivitis should not be confused with periodontitis. Periodontitis, though rare, can grow out as an extension of this if left untreated for too long, leading to painful inflammation, deeper infections, and the risk of permanent damage to your gums and teeth. Regardless of the severity of your gum disease, you should see us immediately to help ensure that it does not worsen and to discuss methods to tame your ill mouth and help keep it healthy in the future.
The best way to avoid gingivitis is to practice proper oral hygiene. The foremost and most important step is to brush your teeth twice daily. We advise that you brush your teeth, preferably right after breakfast and dinner, or upon waking up and before going to sleep. If you already have gingivitis, be sure to use both a toothbrush and toothpaste that are designed for sensitive mouths, as your gingivitis is going to make your mouth sore and more sensitive to stimulation.
Another important step is to floss daily. We can help educate you on how to floss properly, as we understand that it may be uncomfortable at first to introduce your gums to floss if you suffer from gingivitis. We advise that you start with an 18-inch section of floss and work the floss up underneath the gumline and between each tooth. Use a fresh section of floss per tooth to avoid spreading germs around. This will keep the gum and tooth regions clean and food free, preventing any more fueling of bacterial disease.
Lastly, rinsing and gargling after every meal with water (a pinch of salt in the water will help soothe your mouth, and is also mildly anti-bacterial) will keep the entirety of your mouth clean, ensuring that your gums have a safe environment to recover in and help fight off the bacteria causing your gingivitis. It also helps to avoid sour, crunchy, or sugared snacks in your diet, as they can help fuel gingivitis, damage your gums and open them to infection, or worsen your existing symptoms.
Although uncomfortable, gingivitis is almost always entirely treatable, especially in the earlier stages. By maintaining a good oral hygiene regimen, and making sure you visit us here at Alder Dental every six months for a checkup, examination and a cleaning, you can help ward off any long-term effects of gingivitis, as well as nip other oral issues in the bud before they can start. If you would like to learn more about your gingiva, or you are ready to set up an appointment with us, please give us a call at (360) 831-0831 today!