Gum disease, also known as gingivitis, is a condition in which your gums are in a state of inflammation. They can appear red, swollen and bleed easily. This is usually caused by local irritation from plaque that is left on the teeth for periods of time. When your gums are inflamed for long periods of time, the usually tight barrier between your mouth and your bloodstream is slightly weakened. This means it is easier for bacteria and inflammatory mediators from our mouths to enter our bloodstream. When gingivitis is left to progress for long periods of time, it may develop into periodontitis. Periodontitis is inflammation of the gums as well as the supporting tissues surrounding the teeth such as the periodontal ligament and the bone surrounding your teeth. Over long periods of time, you can actually lose bone and therefore the support that is vital to the stability of your teeth.

Your best weapons for preventing gingivitis are your oral hygiene routine. This means brushing at least twice per day and flossing at least once per day. The best time of day to brush is in the morning once you’ve finished eating breakfast and then at night after you’ve eaten your last meal before bed. Brushing and flossing help to remove the plaque that builds up on our teeth throughout the day. Using a mouthwash that helps lower the bacterial levels in the mouth can also help. If you find flossing difficult, a water-flosser can be used to remove debris lodged in between the teeth. Regular professional cleanings every 3-6months can help minimize calculus buildup. Calculus provides a rough and protective environment for the plaque and bacteria that cause inflammation and calculus can’t be removed by brushing and flossing alone.

Another way to help prevent gingivitis is by eating a healthy diet and trying to avoid foods with high sugar content. Foods high in sugar act as fuel for the bacteria present in plaque. Sometimes stress can make you more prone to gingivitis. Try to minimize your stress levels as this will help improve your health overall.

If you are worried about the state of your gums or if you’d like to know more about how to keep your mouth as healthy as possible you can visit your dentist for more information.