It might surprise you to learn that about 70% of adults suffer from some degree of gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease. In fact, gingivitis is the number one infectious disease in the world.

Why is it important that gingivitis be diagnosed and treated? Gingivitis, if allowed to go untreated, can progress to a more advanced form of gum disease called periodontal disease. When periodontal disease develops, the connective tissue surrounding the teeth and bone become damaged, resulting in the teeth becoming lose. Eventually, the teeth may fall out. Also disturbing is the fact that recent studies have found a link between periodontal disease, gingivitis and an increased risk of developing a heart attack or stroke.

How does gingivitis initially develop? This disease develops when plaque is allowed to build up on the teeth and gum line, causing the gums to become inflamed. This may result in swollen, tender gums that bleed when the teeth are brushed. The gingivitis sufferer may also complain of a chronic bad mouth taste and bad breath. Certain people are more susceptible to gum disease including diabetics and women who are pregnant. If you’re pregnant or suffering from diabetes, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene and have a thorough dental evaluation. Studies have shown that pregnant women who have gingivitis are at a higher risk for low birth weight babies. This is just one more reason to see your dentist during pregnancy.

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Fortunately, there are treatments available that can help restore your gums and teeth to a more healthy state. Gingivitis can usually be controlled with regular cleanings by your dentist to remove plaque and tartar as well as twice daily home brushings followed by flossing at bedtime. There are also antibacterial mouth washes that can help in the treatment of gingivitis.

Periodontal disease requires more aggressive treatment which may consist of deep cleaning procedures called scaling and root planing. These procedures are carried out to remove tartar and bacteria from below the gum line. In severe cases, certain surgical treatments may be necessary in an attempt to restore the bone that’s been lost due to the disease.

If you’re uncomfortable with dental procedures, you may want to take steps to prevent gingivitis from occurring in the first place. You can begin by flossing daily and practicing good tooth brushing technique. Make sure your toothbrush has firm bristles. Over time, toothbrush bristles may bend and become soft which doesn’t allow for effective plaque removal. Keep your toothbrush in good working order. Don’t forget to floss your teeth once a day to further remove any residual plaque. Finally, see your dentist every 6 months for an evaluation of your teeth and gums.

Now that you know how to protect your gums against gingivitis, give them the attention they deserve. By practicing good oral hygiene, you can keep your teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime.

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Source: Are you one of the 70% of Adults with Gum Disease?

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