Chances are good that you or someone you know has, has had or will have gingivitis. See how much you really know about this widespread condition.
Smoking suppresses your immune system, so your body doesn’t effectively fight the gingivitis-causing bacteria in your mouth. Some of the ingredients in cigarette smoke also attack your gums and the supporting structures that hold your teeth in place.
The bacteria in gingivitis release toxins that cause inflammation of the gums. These same toxins have been linked to premature labor, premature birth and low-birth-weight babies.
The American Dental Association recommends using a fluoride-containing toothpaste that carries an ADA seal of approval.
Drinking soda and other sugary beverages through a straw that's properly positioned in your mouth to bypass your teeth can help prevent cavities. Drinking through a straw, however, is not effective in preventing gingivitis.
The American Dental Hygienists Association reports that almost 80 percent of adult Americans have gingivitis or a more advanced periodontal disease. Gingivitis is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, lung and respiratory problems and premature or low-birth-weight babies.
Gingivitis makes it harder for diabetics to control blood sugar levels; however, gingivitis doesn’t lower your body’s immunity. Health conditions that cause lowered immunity, such as leukemia and HIV, increase your risk of developing gingivitis.
Flossing and mouthwash both work to destroy bacteria between teeth. They work best together, but if it’s difficult to get floss between your teeth, rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash is helpful.
Swollen, tender, bleeding gums are some of the first signs that you have gingivitis. If you stop brushing and flossing, it will only get worse. With proper dental care, however, you can halt and cure the gingivitis. Bleeding and tenderness should stop within one to two weeks.
The texture of your tongue gives bacteria lots of places to grab onto, and the warm, moist environment of your mouth creates perfect conditions for bacteria to multiply. Brushing your tongue helps remove the bacteria and freshen your breath.
Routine visits to the dentist are part of your total oral care. Most people should go twice a year, but people with risk factors for gingivitis, such as diabetes, smoking or lowered immunity, should go every three months.