With many diseases, you never know what hit you until your doctor gives you the bad news. But that’s not the case with the disease that we deal with most every day at our Melbourne offices — periodontal disease. Gum disease gives you plenty of warning.
The first sign is what’s called gingivitis. That’s a scary sounding word, but it simply means your gums are irritated and are showing inflammation.
Let’s get into that a little bit and how you can keep gingivitis from becoming gum disease.
What is gingivitis?
As we said, gingivitis by definition means “inflammation of the gums.” You’ve probably heard the term from umpteen Listerine commercials over your lifetime. Listerine has always claimed to help fight gingivitis, and that is true as it helps keep plaque at bay…somewhat.
But it’s not like you can do a really poor job of brushing and flossing and then simply swish a little Listerine around your mouth and everything with your oral health will be fine.
The culprit is dental plaque. Plaque is the main irritant of the gums. Plaque is the film that forms on the teeth throughout the day consisting of bacteria, bacterial waste products, food residue, and saliva. When you brush and floss you remove the plaque. Then it starts to rebuild, only to be removed again when you brush. But if you neglect your oral hygiene the plaque can develop beneath the gumline, where it is very irritating to your gums. If allowed to stay there, the plaque hardens into tartar, causing more persistent irritation. If this irritation is allowed to continue and progress it can advance to periodontitis.
What are the signs of gingivitis?
Most people are as unaware of gingivitis as they are unable to spell it. There isn’t any pain involved at this point. Plus, since most gingivitis is caused by poor home oral hygiene, they may not be paying much attention to their teeth anyway. But your gums will tell you they are irritated: they will be swollen, puffy, and will bleed easily. They may have started to recede, and they will have changed from a healthy pink to an angry red. Plus, your breath will have gone south.
At this point you can turn things around
Gingivitis is kind of like the previews of coming attractions we see at the movies. Your red gums are telling you the future — full-blown gum disease. But it doesn’t have to go that way. You simply need to see us for your regular cleanings and exams with Dr. Brown and our team. We’ll see what’s going on. We may need to do a little scaling and root planing to clean the tartar that has begun to move under your gums, but that’s not a difficult treatment.
From there, you need to step up your home hygiene. Brush twice daily with purpose. Hit all the tooth surfaces, lightly brush your gums, and use dental floss. If you do this, and if you keep seeing us every six months, that brush with approaching gum disease can make a U-turn on the road to better oral health.
Is it time for your next cleaning and exam? Call us at Implant Dentistry of Florida, (321) 372-7700, to make your appointment.