What you need to know about gingivitis and periodontal disease

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The importance of treating gingivitis

According to the American Dental Association, nearly one in three adults aged 30–54 in the U.S. has either an early form of the gum disease, gingivitis, or even more advanced forms of periodontal disease. Many people don’t realize how important it is to treat the early stages of gum disease before it gets worse.

The presence of gingivitis or the more advanced periodontal disease means that your gums are inflamed and that damage is occurring. That damage can lead to infections or even the loss of the bone and tissues that hold your teeth in place.

But that’s not all. Scientists have also found many possible connections between oral health and overall health issues like heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

Gingivitis is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth. If your gums are red, swollen and bleed easily, you may have gingivitis. Regular brushing, flossing and visits to the dentist are the best way to keep dental plaque from building up.

Warning signs of gingivitis

Symptoms of gum disease at the gingivitis stage include:

  • Gums that are red and swollen or bleed easily, such as when brushing or cleaning between your teeth
  • Gums that have formed pockets around your teeth
  • Bad breath

Failure to detect and treat gingivitis early could lead to more serious symptoms, including:

  • Teeth that feel loose in your mouth
  • Changes in how your teeth fit together
  • Pus between the teeth and gums

The most important thing to remember is that if gingivitis is not treated early, advanced periodontal disease can damage the tissues and bone around your teeth and can lead to tooth loss and other health conditions.

How to prevent periodontal disease

You can help prevent gum disease by taking the following steps:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day.
  • Clean between your teeth with floss or another interdental cleaner once every day.
  • Visit your dentist for a checkup and professional cleaning at least twice a year.
  • Stop smoking or chewing tobacco.

Changing what you eat and drink can also help keep your teeth and gums healthy. You probably already know that soft drinks and sweet foods hurt teeth over time. But to fight gingivitis, you should also make sure you get the healthy foods, vitamins and minerals you need.

For example, many fruits and vegetables help teeth and gums stay healthy. Some say apples help clean your teeth, while others have found that carrots and cucumbers help protect your mouth. Eating these foods exercises your gums and increases the production of saliva that rids your mouth of harmful sugars and pieces of food.

Dental care is always important. With regular visits, a dentist can recognize early problems that you can’t see, and can provide simple treatment to stop a serious condition from getting worse.

Great brushing starts with being gentle

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