Did you know that the most up to date research on oral hygiene found that over 42% of American adults had some form of gum disease. If you have recently found that you have swollen gums then you could be a part of that statistic.
The first thing you should rule out is gingivitis, one of the most common forms of gum disease. Here’s everything you need to know about gingivitis and how to get rid of it.
What Is Gingivitis
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums usually caused by poor dental hygiene.
Plaque, an invisible stick film mainly composed of bacteria, forms on your teeth after eating foods containing starches and sugars. Plaque reforms quickly, which is why dentists recommend brushing at least twice a day to avoid plaque building up. Any plaque that you don’t manage to brush from your teeth can eventually harden under your gumline into tartar.
Tartar collects more bacteria and makes plaque more difficult to remove by creating a protective shield for bacteria. Tartar causes irritation along the gum-line, and unlike plaque, Tartar requires professional dental cleaning to be removed. The longer this is left, the more the plaque and tartar irritate the gums, causing inflammation.
Over time the gums become swollen, sensitive, and can bleed easily. This can also lead to tooth decay. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis which can eventually lead to tooth loss.
Increased Risk Factors
Gingivitis is incredibly common, and it can affect anyone. However, there are a number of factors that can increase the chance of you developing gingivitis:
- Poor oral care
- Old age
- Inadequate hydration
- Poor nutrition
- Ill-fitting dental restorations or crooked teeth that are difficult to clean
- Conditions that affect the immune system such as HIV/AIDS or cancer treatments
- Certain drugs, such as phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek) for epileptic seizures, and some calcium channel blockers, used for angina, high blood pressure and other conditions
- Hormonal changes (pregnancy)
- Genetics – those with parents who have had gingivitis are more likely to develop it
- Certain viral and fungal infections
Symptoms of Gingivitis
Healthy gums should be firm, pale-pink in color, and fit tightly around your teeth. If you notice any of the following symptoms then you should book an appointment with your dentist. The sooner you seek care, the better your chances of reversing the damage of gingivitis, and preventing its progression to Periodontitis.
If your gums are red, swollen, and sensitive to touch, then this is likely to be a sign of gingivitis. Plaque releases toxins which irritate the gum tissue. These toxins build up along the gum line and are the leading cause of gingivitis.
If your teeth appear longer, it is highly unlikely to be because they are growing! Gingivitis commonly causes the gum line to recede, giving the impression of longer teeth.
If your gums bleed during or after brushing or flossing, there is a large chance that this is caused by the inflammation associated with gingivitis.
Gaps Between the Teeth and Gums
Gingivitis can cause pockets to form between the gums and teeth. These pockets provide perfect opportunities for food to get stuck, and bacteria to grow. This can irritate the gum, and if left untreated might develop into an infection.
Pus Between the Teeth and Gums
If the pocket between the teeth and gums does become infected, then pus can develop. This infection could either be the result of a gum abscess or a periodontal abscess.
A telltale sign of poor dental care and potential gingivitis is prolonged bad breath. This is frequently accompanied by an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
Treatment for Gingivitis
If you show any symptoms of gingivitis its important to visit your dentist as soon as possible. Here are some ways you can help prevent swollen gums and reverse any early onset of gingivitis
Revise Your Brushing Technique
Brushing too vigorously can cause unnecessary damage to the tissue around your teeth, causing the gums to inflame. We recommend using a soft, nylon-bristled toothbrush to prevent damage to the gums.
Flossing gets to where your toothbrush can’t. It removes all of the food particles that collect between your teeth, which eventually lead to the build-up of plaque and tartar. If your gums are already inflamed then be sure to floss gently to avoid further aggravation.
Regularly rinsing your mouth can help to remove food particles left behind from meals or snacks. Using mouthwash formulated for your gums can help to neutralize placate bacteria and combat the onset of gingivitis.
Try an Anti-Gingivitis Toothpaste
Use a toothpaste that is specially formulated to treat and prevent gingivitis. These kinds of toothpaste are designed to neutralize the plaque which collects around the gum line. Plaque bacteria found around the gum line can not only lead to gingivitis, but it can also result in the weakening of tooth enamel.
Improve Your Nutrition
A well-balanced diet might have more to do with better gum health than you initially think. Vitamins C and D, iron, and calcium are all great for your overall dental health.
It should go without saying, but avoid acidic and sugary foods especially sodas.
Who would have thought that taking a long relaxing bath every now and again could help your gums! Stress impacts your hormone levels, increasing the presence of cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for inflammation and can, therefore, be linked to swollen gums.
Believe it or not, exercise might actually be able to help you maintain healthy gums. A 2018 study found that regular exercise can actually help improve and maintain gum health. Take a look at how exercise and even your posture can impact your dental health.
Take Care of Your Teeth And Gums
Be sure to take care of your teeth and your gums. If you are suffering from swollen gums make sure to visit your dentist so they can recommend the best treatment.
For more information about looking after, your pearly whites take a look at the rest of our site.