MANAGING YOUR GINGIVITIS
Gingivitis is inflammation (swelling, redness) of the gums around the teeth caused by poor oral hygiene and poor nutrition. Most cases of simple gingivitis clear up quickly with treatment. Good mouth care is important at home. Recovery time can depend on medical conditions that may affect the mouth.
The usual cause is buildup of plaque around the teeth. Plaque is a sticky material made up of bacteria, food debris, and mucus. When plaque isn’t removed, it hardens into a substance called calculus or tartar, which becomes trapped at the base of the teeth and irritates the gums. Certain medicines, such as birth control pills; pregnancy; and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, can increase the chance of getting gingivitis.
The most common symptoms are gums that bleed easily (especially when brushing the teeth), swollen and reddened gums, bad breath, and bad taste in the mouth.
The dentist or health care provider does an examination of the teeth and gums to diagnose gingivitis. X-rays may be taken to see whether infection has spread below the gum line.
Cleaning at the dentist’s office is usually all that’s needed. Different tools are used to remove plaque. Then, a home mouth care routine must be continued. Careful brushing of teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and daily flossing are important. Fluoride mouthwash may be prescribed. Avoid high-sugar foods because they stimulate production of acid that attacks the teeth. Eat a well-balanced diet.
Severe infection may need prescription antibiotics and sometimes surgery to remove infected gum tissue.
- DO follow your dentist’s advice for cleaning your teeth.
- DO use the right brushing method to get the area between the gums and teeth really clean. Brush and floss twice daily. Change your toothbrush often, even monthly. Use a fluoride toothpaste to reduce tooth decay.
- DO rinse your mouth after flossing with an antiseptic mouthwash.
- DO see your dentist regularly for examinations and cleanings.
- DO keep your appointments for follow-up visits.
- DO call your dentist if you have a high temperature, excessive bleeding from your gums, or pain in your gums or teeth.
- DON’T brush with a hard-bristled brush that may irritate the gums.