Gingivitis is a type of gum disease that results in redness, swelling and tenderness of the gums. It is a mild condition and many people may not even be aware that they have it. However, it is essential to treat the condition early so that it does not worsen. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to severe gum disease and loss of teeth. Gingivitis is most often caused by poor dental hygiene. It is possible to protect your gums from gingivitis by brushing and flossing daily and getting a dental check-up done on a regular basis.
Symptoms of Gingivitis
Under normal circumstances the gums appear firm and pink. You may have gingivitis if your gums are red or puffy. Gingivitis does not always lead to pain and discomfort and hence you may not be aware that there is a problem. Some of the common symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Redness, swelling, puffiness of the gums
- Soft and bleeding gums.
- Bad breath
- Loss of natural gum structure and color. The gums may recede and take on a dusky red color
- Bleeding especially while brushing or flossing
Regular dental check-ups are recommended so that gingivitis and other gum and tooth problems can be detected and treated. It is advisable to consult a doctor if you notice any symptoms of gum disease. It is best to seek early treatment for gingivitis so that the damage can be reversed.
Causes of Gingivitis
Gingivitis is commonly caused by bad oral hygiene. Poor care of the gums and teeth contributes to plaque formation. Plaque is a sticky coating consisting of bacteria which forms on the teeth. It occurs especially when you consume sugary or starchy foods. The starches and sugars react with the bacteria that are normally present in the mouth. You can remove plaque by brushing and flossing every day. It is necessary to do this on a daily basis since plaque forms quite quickly. In case you allow the plaque to remain on your teeth for more than a couple of days, it can turn into tartar. It is difficult to get rid of plaque once tartar forms. The tartar also shields the bacteria. You will have to visit your dentist for a professional cleaning in order to remove tartar form your teeth and gums. When plaque and tartar remain for long periods of time, they cause irritation to the sensitive area of the gums around the base of the tooth. This area is known as the gingiva. This can cause your gums to swell and become tender.
Gingivitis is a common condition that can occur in almost anyone. It is common for gingivitis to first occur during puberty. Some of the risk factors that make an individual prone to gingivitis include:
- Poor dental hygiene
- Intake of certain medications
- Weakened immunity due to underlying medical conditions
- Infections due to viruses and fungi
- Hormonal fluctuations such as those which occur during pregnancy or menstruation
- Drug use
- Dryness in the mouth
- Poor nutrition
- Old age
- Poorly fitted dentures or dental restorations. These may cause irritation to the gums and make it difficult to remove plaque and tartar.
Remedies for Gingivitis
The symptoms of gingivitis can be reversed through proper treatment. It can also stop the disease from turning into a more serious form of gum disease. Treatment for gingivitis involves proper professional care and good oral hygiene. Professional treatment for gingivitis involves the following steps:
- Initial examination
- Proper cleaning to get rid of plaque and tartar. This may involve a procedure known as scaling.
- Instructions on how to practice good dental hygiene at home such as the correct ways to brush and floss
- Gargle twice a day by a home made saline solution by putting a pinch of salt in a glass of lukewarm water. This will reduce the swelling in your mouth.
- Regular follow-up examinations
- Repairing dental restorations so that they do not interfere with proper oral hygiene
You can also control gingivitis at home by brushing and flossing daily. Your dentist may recommend using an electric toothbrush as it will clean more effectively. You can also use an antiseptic mouth rinse to get rid of bacteria from the mouth. Gingivitis usually resolves after proper professional cleaning and follow-up home care. You can expect the symptoms to subside within a few days or weeks. However you need to maintain good dental habits so that the disease does not return. Here are some helpful tips for good oral hygiene.
- Visit your dentist for regular professional cleanings
- Replace your toothbrush after every four months
- Brush after meals
- Floss at least once every day
- Use dental picks to clean the crevices between the teeth
There are also plenty home remedies for gingivitis which help to provide relief from symptoms. Tips on how to cure gingivitis at home are given below:
- Aloe vera is helpful in soothing inflamed gums. It also reduces inflammation, destroys bacteria and promotes quicker healing. You can apply the gel of aloe vera leaves to the gums and then gargle with water. Repeat this treatment until the condition subsides.
- Baking soda is a popular gingivitis remedy. Add a small quantity of water to baking soda and apply to the gums using your finger. This will help to get rid of bacteria.
- Soak a few peppermint leaves in water for half an hour and use the solution to rinse the mouth. This will also help to treat bad breath.
- Clove is one of the best known gum inflammation home remedies. Take a clove and rub it gently along the gums. You can also place a couple of cloves near your gums and leave them there for some time. Clove oil is also beneficial in treating inflamed gums.
- Natural remedies for gingivitis also include cranberry juice as it helps to restrict the spread of bacteria. Make sure that you drink only plain cranberry juice without any added sugar.
- You can make an effective spice treatment for gingivitis by combining 1/8th teaspoon of clove powder, two teaspoons of white oak powder, 3/4th teaspoon of peppermint leaf powder and one teaspoon of herbal powder. This mixture may be applied to the gums daily.
- Lemon juice helps to kill bacteria and reduces inflammation. Squeeze a lemon into a glass of warm water and use as a mouthwash after brushing your teeth.
- The herb sage has anti-bacterial properties. Add a tablespoon of sage powder to water and boil for a few minutes. Then add a pinch of salt and pour the solution into a bottle. You can store the bottle in the refrigerator for later use. It can be used to soothe infected and irritated gums after brushing.
- Echinacea is also a beneficial herb for those suffering from gingivitis. It boosts immunity and restricts bacterial infection. It also eases swelling and tenderness of the gums. Add half a teaspoon of Echinacea extract to warm water and rinse with this solution. You can do this thrice daily to improve your immunity.
- Add a pinch of salt to a tablespoon of mustard oil and use to massage the hums. Use small circular strokes and continue massaging for a minute or two. Gargle with water and then repeat the treatment twice or thrice daily.
- Add some cayenne powder to your toothpaste and brush daily. There may be a slight warm sensation in the mouth when you first start using it. But in time, the discomfort will subside. Cayenne powder will help to fight bacteria and prevent gum disease.
- You can make an effective mouthwash with alum. Dissolve some alum in water and then gargle with the solution. It helps to reduce redness.
Diet for Gingivitis
Good dietary habits will help to prevent gingivitis. Here are some helpful dietary tips:
- Ensure that you get an adequate supply of fiber through the diet. Include whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables in daily meals. This will also help to strengthen immunity and protect the body from infections.
- Eat more crunchy raw foods as these help to clean the teeth. Soft, cooked foods tend to stick to the teeth and hence encourage bacterial growth. When you eat soft foods, make sure that you brush your teeth properly.
- A good supply of vitamins and minerals enables you to fight infections such as gingivitis. Your diet should be high in the vitamins B and C. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron, zinc and selenium are also important. If you are unable to get enough vitamins and minerals through the diet, speak to your doctor about taking nutritional supplements.
- Avoid eating foods which are rich in sugar as bacteria thrive on sugars. The sugar that gets lodged between the teeth provides an ideal breeding ground for the bacteria. Therefore cut down on white flour, sweets and fruit juices.
Suggestion for Gingivitis
Avoid smoking as it can worsen the inflammation in the gums and allow the disease to progress. Also try to manage stress effectively as it can weaken your immune system and make you susceptible to diseases.