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Gingivitis is an often painful inflammation of the gums, usually caused by excess plaque. Gingivitis is not particularly dangerous, but it can cause increasingly unpleasant symptoms over time. So it is important to address the cause in time.
We explain what gingivitis is, how to tackle gum inflammation at home and when to see the dentist.
Gingivitis is a condition that is common in adults. The majority of adults suffer from gingivitis at some point. The gums are then often red or swollen and may bleed, especially when brushing. Also, gingivitis causes an unpleasant odour in the mouth.
The most common cause of gingivitis is an accumulation of bacterial plaque between and around the teeth. Dental plaque is a biofilm that naturally accumulates on the teeth. It forms when bacteria adhere to the smooth surface of a tooth. This plaque can harden into tartar, especially at the base of the teeth. Because tartar becomes very hard over time, it is important to have it removed regularly at the dentist’s office.
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You can recognise gum inflammation by the following symptoms:
In the case of incipient gum disease, you may not suffer severely from any of these symptoms. A dentist can then already see that gingivitis is speaking.
The treatment of gingivitis depends on how advanced the inflammation is. The most important thing is good oral hygiene. Sometimes gum disease goes away on its own, but often it is necessary to have a dentist look at it.
When inflammation is severe, you can’t really fix it at home. This is because tartar has often grown in front of the pockets, preventing you from cleaning there yourself. However, for mild symptoms or to prevent gingivitis, there is a lot you can do at home. For gingivitis treatment at home, consider:
– Brush teeth at least twice a day. When doing so, use a toothpaste specifically for this purpose such as this sonic toothbrush.
– Using an electric toothbrush (for example, this toothbrush from Oral B)
– Floss your teeth at least once a day. You can do this with traditional floss or, for example, with a water flosser. Toothpicks are also great for cleaning between the teeth. In any case, avoid wooden toothpicks; these can leave small splinters, which can actually make the infection worse.
– Rinse the mouth regularly with an antiseptic mouthwash.
If your gum inflammation is a little longer and does not go away on its own, it is important to have a dentist look at your teeth. A dentist will always carefully clean the teeth first in case of gingivitis – this is also called scaling.
This involves using a special device to remove tartar that has become so hard that you cannot get it out yourself. In principle, the treatment is not painful, but in case of very sensitive gums, it may be pleasant to use a local anaesthetic.
After cleaning the teeth, the dentist explains the importance of oral hygiene and how to brush and floss effectively yourself. A dentist may also recommend a medicinal mouthwash or even prescribe antibiotics.
How long it takes to get rid of gingivitis depends on the nature of the inflammation. Mild inflammation can be completely gone within a week, while a course at the dentist in the case of advanced gingivitis can take several months. Fortunately, proper treatment will cure almost all gingivitis.
Frequently asked questions
What are the symptoms of gingivitis?
Gingivitis can be recognised by red gums that can be painful when you touch or chew food. The gums may also bleed. Your teeth may also become sensitive, for example to cold, heat or sweets.
How can I treat gingivitis?
When you have gingivitis, your oral hygiene is very important. Brush your teeth well, use mouthwash and make sure you floss accurately. Does the gingivitis not go away on its own within two weeks? If so, make an appointment with the dentist.
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