Dental Health 101 : Gingivitis

If you are old enough, you will remember those old Listerine commercials. You know the ones. Where the voice-over guy, in his deep, almost foreboding voice, convinces us to use the mouthwash or suffer the fate that 3 out of every 4 people will suffer from.

That’s right… I’m talking about Gingivitis. We’ve heard about it for years, but what exactly is Gingivitis? In this continuation of our Dental Health 101 series we’ll tell you everything you always wanted to know about this affliction that spawned a thousand television commercials.

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a very common and mild form of gum disease that causes irritation, redness and inflammation of your gums. Many times the symptoms of gingivitis can be very mild and you may not even be aware that you have it. Even though you may not be in major discomfort we believe it’s important to take gingivitis seriously and treat it as soon as possible.

What are symptoms of Gingivitis?

Someone suffering from gingivitis may see gums that are puffy, red and bleed easily. Because it is generally a painless disease, you can have gingivitis without even knowing it. Signs and symptoms of gingivitis may include:

  • Swollen gums
  • Soft, puffy gums
  • Receding gums
  • Tender gums
  • Gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss
  • A change in the color of your gums from a pink to red
  • Bad breath

What causes Gingivitis?

The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene. When you don’t brush or floss regularly, or you don’t use proper brushing techniques, plaque can build up on the teeth. Let it stick around long enough and it will harden into tartar around and under the gum line allowing bacteria to set up shop in your gums. Over time, your gums become swollen and bleed easily. This, my friend, is gingivitis.

Gross! How can I prevent Gingivitis?

The easiest way to prevent gingivitis is to have your regular dental checkups and be diligent in brushing and flossing your teeth.
In addition you can keep gingivitis at arms length by taking the following steps:

  • Use a soft toothbrush, replacing it at least every three to four months.
  • Consider using an electric toothbrush, which may be more effective at removing plaque and tartar.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day, or better yet, after every meal or snack.
  • Floss daily.
  • Use an antiseptic mouthwash, like Listerine, or other product that your dentist may recommend.
  • Use an interdental cleaner, like a dental pick to clean between your teeth.

As with many dental issues, simple oral health practices can keep your mouth healthy and happy. And for all you nostalgic readers, we’ve found one of those classic Listerine commercials! Enjoy!

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