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Gingivitis -- What It is and How to Prevent It

Gingivitis is the name that dentists use to refer to inflammation of the gums that help support our teeth, and protect them from food debris accumulating beneath the gum line. People often do not take gingivitis seriously enough. However, if left untreated it can lead to more serious conditions such as periodontitis that can cause you to loose your teeth over time. Read on, avoid the consequences, and preserve your precious gums.

What is Gingivitis?

In simple terms, gingivitis is the precursor to more serious gum disease that follows, and that is more expensive and more difficult to treat. It takes hold when we allow plaque (a soft, sticky colourless film of bacteria) to build up on our teeth because we do not keep them properly clean. This plaque has the ability to produce the poisons that dentists call toxins. These toxins have the capacity not only to eat away at our tooth enamel, but also to irritate our gum tissue, causing gingivitis. When we detect gum problems early enough, the damage to our gums can be reversed because the bone and connective tissues that hold our teeth in place are not yet affected. If left untreated though, the periodontitis that could follow may cause permanent damage to your teeth and jaw.

How to Tell if You Have Gingivitis:

Characteristic sings of impending problems typically include swollen, red and tender gums that may also bleed when you clean your teeth. Other indications to look out for are gums that have receded or pulled away from the teeth that they are supposed to support, making them look tall and long. The pockets that may result from this can trap food debris and plaque, leading to bad breath and an unpleasant taste in one’s mouth.

How to Prevent and Reverse the Effects of Gingivitis:

The secrets of prevention and cure are equally simple – good oral hygiene. These are the things that you need to take on board, either to prevent gingivitis or to encourage its effects to gradually recede.
  • Be gentle with your gums. Avoid stabbing them with a toothbrush, or injuring them with sharp pointed, or very hot food. If this happens, rinse frequently with warm salty water or an anti-septic mouth rinse, and eat soft food only until your gums have healed.
  • Clean your teeth regularly by flossing and brushing properly. Consider using an electric toothbrush to get to places that are hard to reach.
  • Eat healthy foods such as fruit and dairy products that contain trace elements that feed your gums and teeth.
  • Cut down on sugary things that feed the bacteria that live in plaque, and remember to rinse properly after eating or drinking these. Do not smoke.
  • See your dentist as frequently as they recommend, so that they can remove any accumulated plaque from your teeth, and check your gums carefully for any problems.
Gingivitis, thankfully, is not a serious problem and should be completely avoidable when you follow sensible oral hygiene practices. If, however, it does develop in your gums then you should treat this event as an early warning system, and take heed. We all should take the simple, but necessary steps to ensure that we keep the healthy teeth and gums that Mother Nature gave us.
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