Gingivitis Doesn’t Belong in Cookies
Most people have heard the term “gingivitis.” Problem is, they have a better a chance at naming all eight Supreme Court justices (which equates to about a 1 percent chance) than actually knowing what gingivitis means.
Yes, we all are victims of advertising in this case, the culprit being Listerine. Since the dawn of time, Listerine has been touting in its TV commercials that Listerine kills the germs that cause gingivitis. They didn’t bother to explain what gingivitis is because the term sounds so ominous.
At Kalil & Kress, we like our patients to be as knowledgeable as possible, so here’s what gingivitis means:
Whoa, that’s anticlimactic, isn’t it? Here’s what you need to know about gingivitis.
What is gingivitis?
Yes, gingivitis is nothing more than gum inflammation. The main culprit is plaque. Plaque is the film that forms on the teeth throughout the day. It consists 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.
This sounds so innocent. The problems come when you get lazy with your home hygiene. When you do cursory brushing and care 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. While the term “irritation” sounds innocent enough, if this irritation is allowed to continue and progress, it leads to gum disease, clinically known as periodontitis.
What are signs of gingivitis?
Gum irritation is easy to spot. Your gums should be pink all over, kind of like a piece of Double Bubble. Any bright red patches show irritation. Your gums should also lie flat against the teeth; inflamed gums tend to recede and pull away from the teeth. If they’re irritated, your gums will also be prone to bleeding and this shouldn’t normally happen if you’re using a soft toothbrush. Bleeding is a sign of inflammation. And finally — they get this right in the commercials — your breath will reek. Your bad breath is caused by bacteria that are being left to their own devices by your poor oral hygiene.
To keep your gums healthy and keep gingivitis at bay, it all starts with good home hygiene. Beyond that, Dr. Kalil and Dr. Kress treat gingivitis with these treatments:
- Prophylactic cleaning
Twice-yearly cleanings with our office are the first step. Why twice a year? That generally is the time it takes to start forming tartar and other issues that lead to decay. During these cleanings and checkups, not only will those problem areas receive a thorough cleaning, but we will also point them out to you for more attentive care at home.
If you have a fair amount of tartar built up under your gumline, we will scrape it off with dental tools. This is called scaling, and depending how much we have to do, we may give you a local anesthesia.
- Root planing
If we opt for root planing, any tiny grooves or pits are removed from the tooth roots to make it easier for the gums to adhere and stop receding. This is done in multiple appointments with local anesthesia.
The goal here is to keep things at gingivitis, not moving toward periodontitis. Toward that end, is it time for your next cleaning? Call us at 603-880-7004 to schedule your appointment.