Gingivitis is a type of periodontal disease that is very common. It affects millions of people and is usually the first step in gum disease that can lead to more serious conditions like periodontitis. Gingivitis can cause red, inflamed and swelling gums around the base of your teeth. If the condition is not effectively treated and periodontitis develops, it can lead to loosening of the teeth, erosion of the gums and tooth loss. If you believe you have this gum disease, Smile Angels of Beverly Hills can help when you visit Bruce Vafa DDS.
How is Gingivitis Diagnosed?
Gingivitis can be diagnosed by a dentist in a variety of ways. When you visit the dental office, the dentist can diagnose you with gingivitis based on the following:
- Review your full medical and dental history, including any underlying conditions that might contribute to the symptoms you are experiencing.
- Perform a full oral exam of your teeth, gums, tongue and mouth, in general, for the signs of inflammation and plaque.
- Measuring the depth of the pockets between your gum line and teeth. The dentist does this by placing a dental probe between the tooth below the gum line and checks a few areas throughout the mouth. In a normal, healthy mouth, the pocket depth is only between 1 and 3 mm. If your pockets are deeper than 4 mm, it signifies that you have gum disease.
- Taking dental X-rays of your mouth to determine whether there has been bone loss in areas where deeper pockets have been detected.
- Various other tests may also be done if necessary. If the dentist doesn’t have a clear insight into the exact cause of your gingivitis, you may be recommended to undergo additional medical exams to check for underlying health conditions.
Treatment Options for Gingivitis
When gingivitis is treated quickly, it can usually reverse the damage that has already been done and prevent it from further progressing into periodontitis and potential tooth loss. The best way you can be successful in reversing the condition is to incorporate good oral hygiene practices into your regular everyday routine and avoid using tobacco products.
Treatment for gingivitis includes the following:
Full, professional teeth cleaning
At your first appointment, you will get a deep, professional teeth cleaning. This is a lengthy procedure that includes root planing and scaling. Root planing involves going underneath the gum line to remove all of the bacteria buildup beneath the gums, which can help reduce inflammation and prevent further buildup of bacteria and tartar. Scaling eliminates the bacteria and tartar from the surfaces of the teeth. These procedures are performed using special dental instruments.
Dental restoration, if necessary
In some cases, you might develop gingivitis as a result of crooked or crowded teeth. Often, with these problems, it’s more challenging to practice good oral hygiene such as flossing. If your teeth are crowded, it can be difficult to remove food particles from between the teeth. Dental restoration can help by allowing for better oral hygiene, which can potentially reverse your gingivitis.
Ongoing dental care
Usually, gingivitis clears up after you have gotten a deep, thorough professional teeth cleaning, but it takes work on your part. You must continue to practice good oral hygiene as part of your daily routine. Brush your teeth twice per day and floss once each day. You should also have regular dental cleanings and checkups every six months as recommended by the dentist.
Measures to Take to Prevent Gingivitis
There are certain preventative measures you can take at home to stave off the development of gingivitis. Although some cases of gum disease may not be preventable due to issues like genetics, you can still do your part. Here are some of the steps you can take to prevent gingivitis:
- Brush your teeth daily: You should brush your teeth at least twice per day but can do so three times if you prefer. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and toothpaste with fluoride. You should aim to replace your toothbrush every three months as the bristles wear down. You may want to get an electric toothbrush with removable heads as they can often get into places in the mouth that a regular toothbrush cannot reach.
- Floss daily: Even if you feel as though there is nothing stuck between your teeth, you should floss every day. Floss can remove even the tiniest food particles you can’t see and can finish the job that brushing starts. If you have a problem using regular floss, get handheld flossers, which might be easier to use. If you are unfamiliar with flossing or think you have been doing it wrong, speak to the dentist about how to properly do it.
- Use mouthwash: Rinse out your mouth with antibacterial mouthwash every day as well. Doing so can prevent bad breath, buildup of plaque and the development of gingivitis. Speak to the dentist about the best mouthwash for you.
- Get regular dental checkups: You should go to your regular dental checkups every six months as needed. Some people can even benefit from receiving dental checkups once every three months depending on their situation. The dentist or hygienist can give you dental cleanings that can effectively remove tartar from your teeth, which can help to prevent gingivitis and other gum diseases from developing.
- Consume a healthy diet: Eat a healthful diet that is low on sugar and starch to avoid tooth decay. Aim for fresh fruit instead of sugary snacks to keep your gums healthy.
- If you smoke, quit now: Smoking is obviously bad for your health in more ways than one. It can damage your heart and lungs. However, what is lesser known is that smoking and using tobacco products, in general, can also cause damage to your gums and teeth. It can lead to the development of gingivitis and worse gum diseases that can result in bone and tooth loss. If you are a smoker, quitting can help you to prevent gingivitis.
If you are in the Los Angeles area and need a good dentist, visit our office, Smile Angels of Beverly Hills to schedule an appointment with Bruce Vafa DDS.