Even if you don’t realize it, chances are that you suffer from gum disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease” and “70.1% of adults 65 years and older” struggle with this condition. The later stage of gum disease, called periodontitis, causes the tissue to form pockets, pull away from the teeth, and can even lead to tooth loss. This is why it is particularly important to effectively treat the earlier, milder phase of this condition, called gingivitis. At our Houston dental practice, Dr. Cindy Flanagan and our team are committed to helping our patients enjoy healthy smiles, and this includes ensuring the gums are in good shape. Of course, the more you know about your periodontal well-being, the better you can maintain your gums. In the following blog, we describe gingivitis treatment, including home and special care.
First, it’s important to understand the basics of gingivitis. According to Medical News Today, “gingivitis means inflammation of the gums (gingiva).” There are a variety of circumstances that can cause the periodontal tissue to swell, such as injury or ill-fitting restorations. However, “it commonly occurs because of a film of bacteria that accumulate on the teeth—plaque.” The same bacteria that cause cavities by eating away at your enamel can also infect your gums, irritating the tissue. Gingivitis is often both unhealthy and uncomfortable.
Do You Suffer From Gingivitis?
If you don’t pay much attention to your gums, you might not know you have gingivitis. You may be suffering from this condition if:
- Your gums appear inflamed or irritated.
- You have “gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss” your teeth, according to Mayo Clinic.
- Your gum tissue looks darker, taking on a deeper red hue than normal.
- Your gums feel especially sensitive when you eat, drink, or take care of your oral hygiene.
- Your gums begin to shrink back from your teeth (this is due to the infection).
- You suffer from halitosis (bad breath).
If you experience any of the above, we recommend that you contact us for an appointment with Dr. Flanagan so we can begin remedying your condition before it worsens.
The saying “prevention is the best medicine” rings particularly true when it comes to gingivitis. Medical News Today notes: “generally, gingivitis resolves with good oral hygiene—longer and more frequent brushing, as well as flossing.” This helps to stop the formation of plaque that so often leads to gingivitis. Medical News Today also suggests “using an antiseptic mouthwash” to help fight bacteria. You can further reduce your risks for gingivitis by eating a healthy diet and abstaining from tobacco products. One of the best precautionary measures you can take to avoid gingivitis is to attend cleaning and examination appointments with Dr. Flanagan at least every six months. During these visits, we will evaluate your mouth for signs of gingivitis, scrub away plaque, and teach you better oral hygiene techniques.
Other Treatment Options
In addition to taking good care of your gums, there are a few more professional protocols we may recommend taking to fully treat your gingivitis, depending on the circumstances. These procedures include:
- Restorations. As Mayo Clinic explains, “misaligned teeth or poorly fitting crowns, bridges, or other dental restorations may irritate your gums and make it harder to remove plaque during daily oral care.” If Dr. Flanagan and our team determine that cavities, infected tooth roots, dental damage, or improperly placed previous restorations are contributing to your gingivitis, we may place tooth colored fillings or dental crownson the affected teeth to help resolve this issue.
- Scaling and root planing. These are deep cleaning techniques to “[remove] all traces of plaque, tartar, and bacterial products,” jump-starting your oral hygiene and ”discouraging further buildup of tartar and bacteria” to “[allow] proper healing” from gingivitis. Dr. Flanagan and our team will recommend this therapy if your gingivitis is more severe.
- Advanced care. In serious cases, Dr. Flanagan and our team may refer you to a periodontal specialist, who can conduct further diagnostic tests and perform more intensive treatments.
Dr. Flanagan and our team will carefully diagnose your condition and create a customized gingivitis treatment plan for you according to your specific needs.
Contact Our Houston Dental Practice Today
Do you suffer from gingivitis? Would you like to improve your periodontal care? Contact us today to find out more and schedule an appointment with Dr. Flanagan.