Gingivitis Beyond the Commercials

GingivitisWe’re all victims of advertising. Maybe we actually believe “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Which is a lie perpetrated on us by C.W. Post of Post Cereal fame. Or maybe we believe we’ll all look like the people on the infomercials simply by buying the AbBlaster. Sure.

Or maybe we’ve heard the term “gingivitis” in a Listerine commercial, complete with its ominous warnings.

Uh, let’s get real. The fancy term gingivitis simply means gum inflammation. And it’s the sign of things to come, but if you pay better attention, it doesn’t have to mean much of anything. Here’s the lowdown on gingivitis from your friends at Dr. Miller’s.

What is gingivitis?

OK, so gingivitis is nothing more than gum inflammation. Plaque is the main irritant of the gums. Plaque is the film that forms on the teeth throughout the day consisting of bacteria, bacterial waste products, food residue, and saliva. When you brush and floss you remove the plaque. Then it starts to rebuild, only to be removed again when you brush. This is kind of a Groundhog Day scenario. But if you neglect your oral hygiene the plaque can develop beneath the gumline, where it is very irritating to your gums. If allowed to stay there, the plaque hardens into tartar, causing more persistent irritation. While the term “irritation” sounds innocent enough, if this irritation is allowed to continue and progress, it leads to gum disease, clinically known as periodontitis. If you have gum disease, you’ll be seeing Dr. Miller far more than you want to!

What are signs of gingivitis?

So, how do you know when you have gingivitis? Gum irritation is easy to spot. Your gums should be pink all over. Any bright red patches show irritation. Your gums should also lie flat against the teeth; inflamed gums tend to recede and pull away from the teeth. Your gums will also be prone to bleeding and this shouldn’t normally happen if you’re using a soft toothbrush. Bleeding is a sign of inflammation. And finally, as in the commercials, your breath will reek. The commercials get this part right — your bad breath is caused by bacteria that is being left to its own devices by your poor oral hygiene.

Gingivitis treatments

To keep your gums healthy and keep gingivitis at bay, it all starts with good home hygiene. Beyond that, Dr. MIller treats gingivitis with these treatments:

  • Prophylactic cleaning
    Twice-yearly cleanings with our office are the first step. People wonder about the twice-yearly timeline. What’s that about? That generally is the time it takes to start forming tartar and other issues that lead to decay. During these cleanings and checkups, not only will those problem areas receive a thorough cleaning, but we will also point them out to you for more attentive care at home. Dr. Miller also checks for signs of oral cancer during these visits.
  • Scaling
    If you have a fair amount of tartar built up under your gumline, we will scrape it off with dental tools. This is called scaling, and depending how much we have to do, we may give you a local anesthesia.
  • Root planing
    If Dr. Miller opts for root planing, any tiny grooves or pits are removed from the tooth roots to make it easier for the gums to adhere and stop receding. This is done in multiple appointments with local anesthesia.

So, let’s move beyond the scary gingivitis of the Listerine world and simply avoid irritating our gums. Call Dr. Miller at 503-640-9310 to schedule your next checkup.

Posted in: Gum Diseases

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