Prevent gingivitis from ruining your smile by stepping up your oral health routine.

15 08 19 Smile 0

Did you know? According to Health Canada’s Oral Health Statistics, 28 per cent of Canadians floss at least five times a week.

Often as adults, we let our dental hygiene regimen fall by the wayside. Before long, we begin to see changes in our mouth: Our gums become slightly tender, and we notice traces of blood left in the sink after brushing and flossing. These could be early signs of dreaded gingivitis. Luckily, if caught early, gingivitis can be reversible. More importantly, it can be preventable altogether. I spoke to Dr. Naila Ladha from Dawson Dental about the effects of gingivitis and how to prevent it from ruining your precious smile.

15 08 19 Smile 1Gingivitis by Definition

Simply put, gingivitis causes inflammation of the gums. When basic dental care has been neglected, plaque begins to accumulate on the teeth. This clear, sticky substance contains bacteria that can wreak havoc on your pearly whites, even more so when it hardens into tartar. “Other causes include systemic health issues, medications, trauma, changes in hormones [pregnancy gingivitis] and smoking,” says Dr. Ladha. “Some people even believe gingivitis might have some genetic basis.”

The Warning Signs

The early stages of gingivitis can be painless and, therefore, potentially go undetected. But if you notice bleeding during your brushing routine or your gums are looking different, you may want to visit a dental professional. “Symptoms of early gingivitis may not be as noticeable to a patient but perhaps more noticeable to dental providers,” explains Dr. Ladha. “We notice red, puffy gums and bleeding while probing with dental instruments or during hygiene visits, while patients may not even feel discomfort.”

As plaque builds, and is left untreated, the warning signs of gingivitis become more prominent, obvious and uncomfortable. As Dr. Ladha explains, “As gingivitis becomes more progressive, the gums become bright red or purple, tender and sometimes painful to touch. The gums bleed easily when brushing and flossing, and the gums are inflamed or begin to recede.”

Gingivitis is Not Pretty

Gingivitis can take its toll on the overall appearance of your smile, making it look aged and unattractive. “Gums should appear moist, pink and tight and have well defined margins. When patients have gingivitis, their gums become non-symmetrical and hyperplastic, have blunted margins and look off-putting,” warns Dr. Ladha. Add bad breath to the mix and gingivitis will have you thinking twice before getting close and flashing that smile. Dr. Ladha continues “Patients may be shy or timid to smile. Their confidence levels might be affected, and they may have less interest in being noticed or in their appearance. In more serious cases, it may even lead to depression.”

Stop Gingivitis in its Tracks

Gingivitis can be prevented and even reversed if caught early. Regular visits to a dentist or hygienist can help remove the plaque and tartar that cause the problem. Fixing broken teeth or straightening your smile can make it easier to reach hidden nooks where plaque thrives. “In general, high-carb, high-sugar foods and alcohol are detrimental to oral health,” says Dr. Ladha. Keeping your mouth moist is key. “We want to encourage as much hydration in the mouth as possible to reduce plaque retention and promote salivary flow. Drink lots of water and avoid smoking.”

But the simplest method to fight gingivitis is to implement a great oral health routine. “Brush your teeth at least twice daily. Folks with hard-to-reach areas or manual dexterity issues can use rotary brushes,” advises Dr. Ladha. “Flossing at least once daily and rinsing with mouthwash will help irrigate food particles.” With this rock-solid system, you’ll have the confidence to always lead with your smile.