Gingivitis: What exactly is it, and how can you get rid of it?

Gingivitis is a gum disease that affects people of all ages. Your gums can become red and swollen, and sometimes you might experience bleeding when brushing or flossing. You may also notice the development of dark spots on your teeth. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious health conditions like heart disease and diabetes. The good news is that there are various treatments for gingivitis, including professional cleaning and medicinal treatment. But one of the best ways to prevent gingivitis is to practice good oral hygiene!

How to prevent gingivitis

To prevent gingivitis, here are some tips to follow: 

  • Floss daily.
  • Wipe and brush your teeth and tongue twice a day. 
  • Don't consume sugary foods or drinks. 
  • Brush your teeth after drinking liquids, as this can damage enamel and gums. 
  • Don't take a bite of food that is stuck between your teeth. 
  • Use a mouthwash to whiten your teeth and help prevent stains.

If you have any more questions or are experiencing gingivitis yourself, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Learn more about preventing gingivitis.

What causes it?

Gingivitis is common, and anyone can develop it. Factors that can increase your risk of gingivitis include:

  • Poor oral care habits
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Older age
  • Poor nutrition, including vitamin C deficiency
  • Dental restorations that are not well fitted and are difficult to clean
  • Conditions that decrease immunity such as leukemia, HIV/AIDS, or cancer treatment
  • Hormonal changes, such as those related to pregnancy, menstrual cycle, or use of birth control pills
  • Genetics
  • Medical conditions such as certain viral and fungal infections

How to manage and treat gingivitis

There are some simple home remedies that you can try to manage the early stages of gingivitis. Please remember, if you’re experiencing severe symptoms, such as extreme pain or bleeding, or if your gingivitis isn’t improving with the natural remedies, it is time to see your doctor or dentist.

  • Saltwater treatment: A rinse with salt water rinse is known to help heal gums inflamed by gingivitis. Salt is a natural disinfectant that helps your body to heal itself.
  • Lemongrass oil mouthwash: A study found lemongrass oil was found to be more effective than traditional chlorhexidine mouthwash at reducing plaque and gingivitis levels.
  • Clove application: Due to its antibacterial and antioxidant properties, it is known to relieve pain, prevent plaque and reduce inflammation. 
  • Oil Pulling: Though it has been used for thousands of years in ayurvedic medicines, oil pulling has become more popular in the West in recent years. It involves swishing oil around in your mouth for 20 to 30 minutes to reduce harmful bacteria, eliminate toxins, and improve overall oral health.

Some of the professional gingivitis care includes:

  • Professional dental cleaning. It is a highly effective treatment to remove all traces of plaque, tartar and bacterial products — a procedure known as scaling and root planing. Scaling removes tartar and bacteria from your tooth surfaces and beneath your gums. The procedure may be performed using instruments, a laser or an ultrasonic device.
  • Dental restoration, if needed. Misaligned teeth or poorly fitting crowns, bridges or other dental restorations may irritate your gums and make it harder to remove plaque during daily oral care. If problems with your teeth or dental restorations contribute to your gingivitis, your dentist may recommend fixing these problems.
  • Ongoing care: Gingivitis usually clears up after a thorough professional cleaning — as long as you continue good oral hygiene at home. Your dentist will help you plan an effective at-home program and a schedule of regular professional checkups and cleaning.

Aside from keeping your dental health in check, learning how to properly care for your gums is a good idea, too. So, make sure you ask your dentist questions about gum disease and gingivitis. They will be able to help you make smart choices when it comes to your dental health.