Gingivitis and advanced gum disease afflict more than 80 percent of the population worldwide, more commonly in wealthier countries such as the United States due to our diets and lifestyles.
A condition that starts as slight bleeding after brushing and flossing, or lingering bad breath, can, if left untreated, progress to devastating inflammation and deterioration of your jawbones and the gum tissue that helps anchor teeth into place.
Dental professionals find gum disease to be a most frustrating condition because too often patients do not seek treatment until the disease is far advanced. At that stage, the treatment options available are to salvage the jawbone and extract teeth that have separated from their secure socket.
If you are experiencing the signs of early gingivitis, the disease can be easily reversed by following three points:
- Brush and floss at least twice daily, preferably in the morning and before you go to bed. Plaque buildup from the foods we eat is the chief cause of gum disease. Plaque is laden with bacteria that attack our teeth causing cavities and infiltrating the gum tissue over time, leading to gingivitis and then to advanced gum disease.
- Have professional dental exams. Dentists recommend twice-annual professional exams that include a thorough cleaning, removal of accumulated plaque (called tartar), possibly fluoride treatments to fortify tooth enamel, and analysis of your gum health to spot signs of gum disease.
- Choose vegetables and fruits. Researchers have found that nutrition plays a pivotal part in promoting and reversing gum disease. Apples, celery, and carrots are super snacks that have a natural tooth scrubbing function to wipe plaque clean from teeth (and a good alternative if you need to brush before an important meeting or event but don’t have a toothbrush handy). In addition, the crunching and chewing involved strengthen gums and jawbones. Conversely, diets rich in sugars and starches fuel bacterial growth.
Additionally, cease smoking. Smoking has a devastating effect on overall health, including the wellness of our teeth and gums. In addition, because gingivitis and gum disease are inflammation-based, doctors have noted that patients who have rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases are at a much higher risk. If you have this type of condition, pay extra attention to your dental care.