Gingivitis: A red flag you can’t ignore

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Health and Wellness

Gingivitis, a common form of gum disease, silently affects seven in 10 Canadians during their lifetime. Caused by harmful bacteria in dental plaque, this mild infection lurks below the gum line, leading to red, swollen gums, tenderness, bleeding and bad breath. Often painless, gingivitis can go unnoticed until a dental hygienist steps in to address the issue.

Detecting gingivitis early is important, as untreated cases may progress to periodontitis, a more severe gum disease that can result in tooth loss and complications such as high blood-sugar levels in those with diabetes. This is particularly critical for seniors, as complications from dental issues can worsen other existing health conditions associated with aging.

Various factors contribute to gingivitis. Hormonal shifts during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause can heighten vulnerability to bacterial infections in the mouth. Chronic diseases and stress weaken the immune system, while poor nutrition and specific medications further compromise the body’s ability to fend off infections. Smoking, vaping and tobacco use increase the risk of gingivitis by causing dryness in the mouth, accelerating plaque buildup, and hindering gum healing.

Preventing and treating gingivitis involves adopting good oral hygiene practices. Dental hygienists recommend brushing for two minutes, twice a day, with a soft-bristled toothbrush along the gumline, cleaning between teeth with floss or interdental tools and using an antibacterial mouth rinse. A healthy diet rich in proteins, fruits and vegetables supports overall oral health. Quitting smoking and tobacco use makes an important difference, as does scheduling regular appointments with a dental hygienist.

Your dental hygienist can help you maintain firm, pink gums that form a tight collar around each tooth. Embracing these habits and regular oral health appointments can safeguard gums and contribute to a lifetime of healthy smiles.

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