Gum disease: Dentist explains how you can prevent it
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Gingivitis is the medical name for inflammation of the gums. The condition causes redness, swelling and bleeding in the gum tissue, and it is most noticeable when you brush or floss your teeth or eat something tough or crunchy like an apple. If you let gingivitis run its course, it can turn into gum disease. Gum disease is linked with major health problems such as heart disease, stroke, some cancers, tooth loss, damage to the jaw, and even death. Can you reverse gingivitis? Express.co.uk chatted to Dentist and The Humble Co. founder, Noel Abdayem to find out.
Gingival bleeding affects 55 percent of adults in the UK and a shocking 90 percent of those have some form of gum disease.
The main cause of gingivitis is the build-up of plaque, which is a layer of bacteria that develops around, on and in between your teeth.
If the plaque isn’t removed, the bacteria will irritate the gums and cause inflammation.
Gingivitis is not pleasant, and if it is not treated it will turn into full-blown gum disease (periodontitis).
Many people do not realise they have gingivitis, but the symptoms are obvious to spot. They include:
- Swollen or puffy gums
- Dusky red or dark red gums
- Gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss
- Bad breath
- Receding gums
- Tender gums
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Healthy gums should be firm, pale pink and fitted tightly around the teeth.
According to Mr Abdayem, signs of good oral health include the ability to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew, swallow, and convey a range of emotions through facial expressions with confidence and without pain, discomfort or disease.
He added: “When a person perceives a drop in their quality of life, in their physical, mental or social well-being due to their oral condition – those are signs of poor oral health.”
These things could signal gingivitis and therefore you should see your dentist immediately to find out how to fix the problem.
Can you reverse gingivitis?
Gingivitis is an early and reversible form of gum disease.
You need to treat gingivitis as soon as you notice symptoms starting to avoid more serious and irreversible forms of gum diseases such as periodontitis.
If you have gingivitis, you have pockets of plaque stuck between your gums and teeth and you need to get rid of it before it spreads to the tissues and bone.
The sooner you seek care and start taking better care of your teeth and gums, the better.
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How to stop bleeding gums
To stop your gums from bleeding and other symptoms of gingivitis, you need to tackle the plaque that is causing it.
Mr Abdayem said: “Bleeding gums are a sure sign that they are inflamed and that your daily oral hygiene needs to be tweaked in order to prevent losing some of the tooth support that the gums provide.
“Gingivitis is caused by the biofilm (plaque) that settles around each tooth. Therefore extra attention is needed to remove the biofilm.”
The dental expert advises everyone to brush all surfaces of their teeth thoroughly for about two minutes twice a day.
According to the NHS, you should brush your teeth before you go to bed and on one other occasion every day (for example, when you wake up).
Mr Abdayem also recommends using interdental cleaners to really remove the plaque.
He said: “Use interdental cleaners such as toothpicks or floss to remove the biofilm that forms in between the teeth.”
This step should be done every day before brushing your teeth with a toothpaste that contains fluoride and either an electric or manual toothbrush.
Another important step in a dental routine to reverse or prevent gingivitis is visiting the dentist.
Mr Abdayem said: “Regular visits to the dental hygienist to remove the mineral layer that deposits around the teeth and which the biofilm loves to stick to.”
The NHS advises everyone to visit the dentist at least once every year or two years, or more frequently if necessary.
If you have gingivitis, you should see your dental hygienist scrape away plaque and tartar (a scale and polish treatment).
Quitting smoking is another good idea because the gums of smokers are also more susceptible to infection.
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