Most people can easily recognize the two most common signs of gum disease: tender gums and blood when brushing or flossing. However, much fewer people can spot the signs of advanced gum disease – the latter stages of gum disease that even quality care and world-class dental technicians cannot reverse.
While your local dentist will be the best place to get definitive answers about the stage of your teeth and gums, it can be helpful for you to learn how to spot some of the most obvious warning signs indicating that advanced gum disease is ahead.
So What Are The Different Types Of Gum Disease?
Two types of diseases can affect the gums: gingivitis and periodontitis. Together, gingivitis and periodontitis are referred to as gum disease or periodontal disease.
The National Institute of Health defines periodontal (gum) disease as “inflammation and infection that destroys the tissues that support the teeth, including the gums, the periodontal ligaments, and the tooth sockets (alveolar bone).” Both gum diseases are relatively common among adults and can be stopped, or their symptoms are significantly lessened with adequate care.
Gingivitis: Early Stages of Gum Disease
Many of the symptoms of early gum disease, known as gingivitis, look like mild versions of those of periodontitis (advanced gum disease).
Take a look at some of the symptoms of gingivitis:
- Mild or moderation discoloration of the gums
- Swollen gums that are tender to the touch
- Chronically bad breath
- Mild bleeding of the gums when brushing or flossing your teeth
Periodontitis: Advanced Gum Disease
The most significant distinction between the early and latter stages of gum disease is permanence. For the most part, the damage done by periodontitis is irreversible. In addition, the inflammation of the gums, bleeding, gum discoloration, and other symptoms are more evident with periodontitis.
In addition to the symptoms shared with gingivitis, here are some that are more specific to periodontitis:
•Gum recession – the gums line begins to recede, and it starts to appear like the teeth are getting long
•Pain – there’s significant pain when chewing
•Loose teeth – teeth no longer feel firmly planted and move when pushed. They may also shift and may no longer align with the teeth opposite them.
•Tooth loss – teeth fall out
So what can you do to beat gum disease?
Believe it or not, reversing gingivitis is entirely possible—and doing so is crucial in preventing gingivitis from progressing into severe gum disease (which could lead to gum recession and tooth loss).
Red, sore, swollen gums and bad breath caused by bacteria are nobody’s cup of tea, so knowing how to kick gingivitis to the curb is a must for a healthier smile. Here are seven tips for reversing the early signs of the disease.
1. Get Professional Cleanings Regularly
Seeing a hygienist or dentist for regular professional cleanings is one of the best ways to get rid of gingivitis long-term. Dentists thoroughly clean your teeth to eliminate the bacteria causing gingivitis using dental instruments, an ultrasonic device. How often should you head to the dentist for professional cleanings? Your dentist may recommend you get there more often than every six months if you have gum disease or even some symptoms.
2. Maintain Dental Hygiene By Brushing & Flossing
In addition to regular professional cleanings, simply brushing and flossing well at home is another way to reverse gingivitis. If you notice your toothbrush bristles are becoming frayed often, you may be applying too much pressure when brushing.
3. Use Antibacterial Mouthwash
It’s crucial to use an antibacterial mouthwash to help get rid of gingivitis-causing bacteria and reverse gum disease. Look for a mouthwash specifically designed for treating gingivitis, and rinse as directed on package instructions. Typically, rinsing for 30 seconds twice a day, after brushing and flossing, is recommended to help kill bacteria, keep breath fresh and get rid of gingivitis.
4. Try Oil Massage or Oil Pulling
Believe it or not, using oil is an all-natural way to help reverse gingivitis. Researchers have found that people who massaged their gums with sesame oil, coconut oil, or olive oil every day for three weeks had significant gingivitis-causing bacteria and plaque reductions.
Oil pulling is another natural way to combat gum disease. A 2017 review published in the International Journal of Health Sciences notes that the practice of swishing oil around in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes appears to reduce oral bacteria and gingivitis-causing plaque.
5. Stop Smoking
Smoking is a risk factor for gingivitis and more advanced gum disease, so kick smoking to the curb to keep your mouth healthy and boost your chance of reversing gingivitis. Researchers have found that smoking weakens your body’s immune system, making it harder to fight gum infections. Smoking also doubles your risk for gum disease compared to nonsmokers.
6. Chew Sugarless Gum
The American Dental Association suggests chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals to help reduce tooth decay and neutralize acids produced by mouth bacteria. Be sure to look for sugarless chewing gum with the ADA seal, which contains non-cavity-causing sweeteners like Xylitol instead of sugar.
7. Reduce Sugar and Refined Carb Intake
Steer clear of sugary foods and drinks, refined carbohydrates, and sticky foods like candies and dried fruit. Such foods can stick to your teeth, and the sugar in them leads to plaque buildup. Instead of soda, choose water as your drink of choice, and consume high-fiber foods (like fruits, veggies, dried beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds) for your source of carbohydrates.
Severe gum disease can result in painful gums, gum recession, loose teeth, and even tooth loss. In addition, treatment for severe gum disease may require surgery and be quite costly. That’s why reversing gingivitis before it becomes problematic is crucial for a healthier, pain-free smile.
Contact our team at Swedish Dental if you think you could be suffering from any of the gum disease symptoms.