What Is Gingivitis And How Can It Be Prevented?
Gingivitis refers to an inflammatory condition of the gums that arises due to bacterial infection. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of periodontal disease, which can eventually destruct the gum tissues, tooth sockets and periodontal ligaments that provide support to the teeth.
Prolonged deposits of plaque on the teeth usually lead to gingivitis. Plaque deposits typically form out of food debris and mucus that give rise to harmful bacteria. When the plaque is not cleaned properly, it develops into a harder deposit known as tartar over a period of time. Tartar and plaque tend to cause inflammation of the gums. Gums may become tender and swollen due to the toxins and bacteria thriving around tartar and plaque.
In additional to poor oral hygiene, which is the primary cause of gingivitis, this condition may also be caused due to an illness, uncontrolled diabetes or hormonal changes caused by pregnancy. In some cases, gingivitis may even result from excessively vigorous brushing of teeth, or any other injury to the gums. Misalignment of teeth, poorly fitting dental braces, crowns or bridges, and even rough edges of metal fillings may increase the risk of gingivitis if they cause irritation of the gums.
Maintaining good oral hygiene practices constitutes the best possible prevention against gingivitis. Regular brushing and flossing of teeth helps to remove the plaque that is the real cause behind this disease. Flossing and brushing must be performed gently, and night brushing before sleep is as important as brushing in the morning. A person who is prone to gum disease should ideally brush teeth after every meal.
Anti-tartar and anti-plaque toothpastes and mouthwashes may also be recommended for people who are more prone to gingivitis. Such people may also be advised by their dental hygienist to use special toothbrushes, tooth picks and devices for water irrigation in the mouth. Professional cleaning with a dentist is recommended at least twice a year as a good preventive measure against gum disease.
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Andrew Spath, DDS
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