Gingivitis, also known as periodontitis, It’s a type of gum disease caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth. This bacterial overgrowth causes toxins to be released, causing gum irritation. It’s estimated that 116 million Americans suffer from this condition. If left untreated it can lead to loss of teeth and bone loss in the mouth.
Many people have gingivitis and don’t even know it, due to the lack of symptoms. However, some of the symptoms that can develop are gum inflammation, bad breath, receding gum line, and gum tenderness.
Typically, gingivitis is caused by a lack of dental hygiene. This lack of hygiene can cause plaque, which is a sticky type of bacteria that inhabit the mouth. Additionally, tartar (hardened plaque) can form and further trap bacteria in between the teeth and gums.
Aside from lack of oral hygiene, gingivitis can also be caused by other factors such as:
- Poor Nutrition
- Certain Medications
- Genetic Factors
- Viral and Fungal Infections
- Tobacco Use
Gingivitis is considered a relatively mild condition that can be treated with a proper cleaning by a dentist. However, if ignored, it can turn into a more severe gum disease known as periodontitis. It causes the gums to pull from the teeth and forms pockets that are then infected with bacteria. This severe form of gum inflammation can do extensive damage to gum tissue, periodontal ligaments, and the alveolar bone.
Preventing gingivitis starts with practicing good oral hygiene. By simply brushing at least twice per day and daily flossing can remove the plaque that forms from food. It’s also recommended visiting a dentist every six months for a professional cleaning. Professional cleanings are necessary to remove hardened tartar that cannot be removed with regular brushing. Also, the regular use of antiseptic mouthwashes can help with the removal of plaque.
Oral hygiene practices can also include the use of alternative natural remedies instead of commercial antiseptic mouthwashes. One of the alternatives is a technique known as oil pulling. Oil pulling is an ancient traditional Indian folk remedy that involves gargling oil in the mouth for up to 20 minutes. One study, in particular, found that oil pulling with sesame oil resulting in a reduction of total plaque in the mouth. While more time-consuming, natural oils can be less harsh on gums.
Gingivitis has been a problem in the human population for centuries; fortunately, in modern times, we are aware of what causes it and how to prevent it. Practicing dental hygiene can go a long way in not only in preventing gingivitis but many dental conditions as well.