Gingivitis: The Ultimate Enemy of the Dentist
If you grew up in a family that at least cared enough about you to teach you basic survival skills like walking and talking, then you were taught that it was important to brush your teeth. It would be an instilled habit, usually with time set aside on both the mornings and evenings. Right along with eating vegetables and going to bed on time, these habits are supposed to help us. But kids have often pondered why people do this sort of thing in the first place. Why do we brush our teeth in the first place? Why do we go to the dentist every year?
Gingivitis and Tooth Decay
It is a universal truth that our bodies are made up of bacteria. Lots of bacteria. Some are helpful or neutral, and others are downright harmful. In any case, it is ever present in the makeup of plants and animals. So, it makes sense that our mouths would also be consistently filled with things like bacteria. Bacteria have a short shelf life, and when it is exposed to the natural sugars and nutrients left on the the residue of teeth, they will gain nutrients, multiply, die, and repeat.
Over time, this creates a film on teeth and provides a breeding ground for more bacteria that cause inflammation on the gum line. This plaque oftentimes causes bad breath, and causes sensitive gums. If untreated, these bacteria can get powerful enough to wear holes through the gum line where the tooth meets the base. Your gums will start bleeding and your teeth might get loose enough to fall off. When it gets severe, gingivitis becomes tooth decay. Your average dentist will call it periodontitis.
But the real kicker is that it happens far more often than most people think.
How Many People Have Gingivitis?
Since everyone has a mouth, and bacteria is going to reside in it no matter what, it is pretty rare for people to have never suffered from any form of gingivitis. In fact 75% of the American population have experienced Gingivitis in their lives.
The good news is that with proper dental care early on, it can be reversed. However, if it gets to the point in which decay starts happening around the gumline, those symptoms may not be reversible. But, even if you were to go to the dentist with a bad case of periodontitis, they will still recommend that you take good care of what you have left. Because, you are still preventing it from getting worse.
What Causes Gingivitis?
Crest.com has the answer to this particular question, and in great detail. So, I will be borrowing a little from their PSA for the purposes of letting the people educate themselves.
- Smoking/tobacco use is one of the greatest risk factors associated with gum disease and can lower the chances for successful treatment. Research shows that smokers are seven times more likely to suffer from gum disease than people who don’t smoke.
- Poor oral hygiene, such as not brushing or flossing regularly is one of several easily avoided causes of gingivitis.
- Not fully removing plaque. You may be missing the plaque found around the gum line, even if the plaque on your teeth has been removed. Be sure to floss regularly and look for a toothpaste that can reach plaque around the gum line.
- Stress is another one of many causes of gingivitis. Constant stress can weaken your immune system and negatively impact your ability to fight infection, including gum disease.
- Hormonal changes including puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and monthly menstruation cause increased sensitivity and inflammation in your gums. Take extra care of your teeth and gums during these physiological changes to prevent gum disease.
- Poor nutrition deprives the body of important nutrients and makes it more difficult for the body to fight infection, including gum disease.
- Medications for many conditions can affect oral health. Tell your dentist or hygienist if you take any prescription or over-the-counter medications.
- Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and HIV, impair the body’s ability to fight infection, including gum disease. Tell your dentist and hygienist if you have any medical conditions.
- Genetics are sometimes the cause of susceptibility to tooth damage. People who have a family history of gum disease are 6 times more likely to have it. This can be managed with tooth proper cleaning and regular dental visits for at least twice a year.
There are a number of causes, with several different factors that range from genetics, to behavioral habits, and environment. It is certainly a fascinating number of factors.
Dental Solutions to Preventing Gingivitis
But what are some of the ways besides just brushing our teeth to help combat tooth decay? After all, we can’t just expect the dentist to do all the work for us.
Webmd, when you are not looking for symptoms in a panic, can be a useful resource in understanding basic healthcare. A few of these are noteworthy all around good habits for preventing gingivitis.
- Stop Smoking
- Tobacco use is a significant risk factor for development of periodontitis. Smokers are seven times more likely to get gum disease than nonsmokers, and smoking can lower the chances of success of some treatments.
- Reduce Stress
- Stress may make it difficult for your body’s immune system to fight off infection.
- Maintain a well-balanced diet.
- Proper nutrition helps your immune system fight infection. Eating foods with antioxidant properties — for example, those containing vitamin E ( vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables) and vitamin C (citrus fruits, broccoli, potatoes) — can help your body repair damaged tissue.
- Avoid clenching and grinding your teeth.
- These actions may put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could increase the rate at which these tissues are destroyed.