What you should know about gingivitis and oral hygiene
Gum infections are acute or chronic infections of the gums, also known as "gingivitis" in medical jargon. In extreme cases, this disease can lead to receding gums. Bacteria cause an inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis causes the gums to become red, swollen and bleed easily. With daily brushing, flossing and regular professional cleanings by a dentist or dental hygienist, this mild form of gum disease can usually be reversed. While gingivitis does not put you at risk of tooth loss, it is still highly advisable to rid yourself of the bacteria in your mouth that are the main cause of the disease by brushing your teeth thoroughly.
What are the causes of gum disease?
Our oral cavity is full of bacteria. These bacteria, together with mucus and other particles, usually form a sticky, colourless plaque on the teeth. If oral hygiene is poor, that is, if there is an excessive amount of bacteria in one place, the teeth become infected. Plaque that is not removed hardens and forms tartar. To get rid of plaque, you should brush your teeth thoroughly and floss regularly. Once tartar has formed, it can otherwise only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist through professional teeth cleaning. Chronic gingivitis can develop into periodontitis (severe gingivitis) and even lead to gum recession and tooth loss.
Symptoms of gingivitis:
• Swelling, redness and bleeding of the gums.
• Sensitivity and pain in the gums while brushing your teeth
• Bad taste in the mouth
• Bad breath
• Pus between the teeth and gum
How long do gum infections last?
Gum inflammation usually lasts for two to five days. You should see a doctor no later than one week after the onset of symptoms. If your gums become inflamed frequently (chronic gingivitis), you should seek intensive dental treatment.
What can you do for acute gingivitis?
• Drink tea with ginger, cinnamon, camomile:
For acute gingivitis pain, it helps to drink lots of tea to soothe the inflammation. Make yourself some tea, take a sip and let the liquid pass over your gums. You can also gargle tea as a mouthwash. Ginger helps with inflammatory conditions and chamomile can also help relieve inflammation in the mouth and keep the gums healthy. Cinnamon has a strong antibacterial effect and is known to be used to treat infections.
• Rinse your mouth with a salt solution:
Gargling with salt water may be a very old trick to reduce acute inflammation of the gums, but it remains one of the most effective! The salt acts as an antibacterial agent, cleansing the mouth from dirt and soothing the inflammation on the gums. Dissolve a teaspoon of table salt in a cup of hot water to make a saline solution. Gargle this solution so that it also reaches the gums. (Do not swallow!) You can achieve a similar result by doing the same for 30 seconds with a mixture of water and fresh lemon juice. This is probably not as effective as salt water, but this solution tastes better! The juice of half a lemon is enough - more could harm your teeth.
• Drink more water:
Drink plenty of water to remove food debris and bacteria from your mouth and to prevent plaque build-up. Drinking water stimulates saliva production, which naturally eliminates bacteria.
• Clove oil:
Clove oil is also a natural treatment for inflamed gums. It has been proven to be effective. Clove oil relieves pain and reduces inflammation! Smear a little clove oil directly on inflamed gums with a cotton swab three times a day. Clove oil can be found in most pharmacies and health food shops.
Who gets gum disease?
Men are more likely to get gum disease than women. Periodontal disease rarely develops in adolescents; gingivitis, the milder form of gum disease, is more common.
Inflamed gums can also be the result of excessive hormone release, which increases blood pressure in the gums. This increase in hormones can occur during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. Some birth control pills can also release this type of hormone.
Pregnant women are particularly prone to gum problems. Six out of ten women suffer from gum inflammation during their pregnancy. Hormone levels rise during pregnancy. Blood therefore flows more quickly into your gums and so swelling and inflammation (gingivitis) can develop more easily. But it also shows that pathogenic bacteria are present in the plaque.
How do you keep your teeth and gums healthy?
• Brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day. For a more thorough result, clean your teeth with an electric toothbrush, such as our happybrush toothbrush.
• Use a fluoride toothpaste. For example, use our happbrush SuperBlack toothpaste.
• Use floss on a regular basis.
• Use mouthwash.
• Visit your dentist regularly for a check-up
• It is recommended that you have two professional dental cleanings a year
• Keep your hands off cigarettes. Smoking not only damages your lungs, but also your oral health.
How can you avoid gingivitis?
You should brush your teeth thoroughly 2-3 times a day for 2 minutes. Daily brushing reduces gingivitis by 60%. Even if you have bleeding gums, it is important to brush your teeth thoroughly with soft bristles. Alternatively, use the sensitive function on your electric toothbrush. The brush is placed horizontally on the border between the gums and the teeth, so that the bristles penetrate the space between the teeth and the gums and remove food particles and plaque. It is also advisable to floss to remove food debris from between the teeth. Bacteria also multiply very quickly between the teeth. You can also use an interdental brush instead of floss.
The right diet to prevent gingivitis
Eat a varied and balanced diet. A poor diet can lead to gingivitis. It is especially important that your diet is rich in vitamin C, calcium and folic acid. This is because vitamin C and folic acid actively help to maintain healthy gums and prevent the development of gingivitis. It has been proven that people who suffer from calcium deficiency are more likely to develop gum disease. Take a daily dose of multivitamins and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
• Rich in vitamin C: papaya, peppers, strawberries, broccoli, pineapple, Brussels sprouts, kiwi, oranges, melons and cabbage.
• Rich in calcium: milk, yoghurt and cheese and sardines, tofu, salmon, soya milk, cereals and kale.
• Rich in folic acid: green leafy vegetables, broccoli, asparagus, peas, beans, lentils, celery, avocados and citrus fruits.
Nitrate-rich vegetables inhibit gingivitis:
There is a clinical study that demonstrates the inhibitory effect of dietary nitrate on gingivitis. The results suggest that gingivitis patients should eat more nitrate-rich vegetables. Avoid simple sugars and alcohol, as these will increase your plaque and weaken your immune system. Instead, consume foods rich in fibre, such as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.
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