Are Your Gums Irritated with You?
- Posted on: Feb 15 2017
Your gums are pink workhorses, akin to a piece of Double Bubble gum supporting a suspension bridge. The gums protect the roots of your teeth, and that’s a big job; without their support, those same teeth start falling out. And you don’t want that.
So you need to know about gingivitis. Sure you may have heard the word in a commercial, but do you know what it is?
Dr. Miller likes his patients to be in the know of all things with their oral hygiene, so here’s what you need to know about gingivitis.
What is gingivitis?
The word “gingivitis” does sound kind of horrifying. In actuality, all it means is gum inflammation. Crazy, no? Plaque is the main irritant here. 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. 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.
The term irritation sounds innocent enough, but Dr. Miller wants you to know that if you let your gum irritation progress the next word you’ll deal with IS horrifying — periodontitis. That’s a fancy word for gum disease, and that’s where all the fun stuff like losing teeth, losing jawbone mass, and that kind of stuff lies in your future.
What are the signs of gingivitis?
Gum irritation is easy to spot. Your gums should be pink all over. They should be the color of a wad of Double Bubble. 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. Yes, the Listerine ads tout killing the germs that cause bad breath. In the case of gingivitis, that bad breath is simply a sign that bacteria have their way in your mouth.
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 think that’s excessive, but there’s method to that six-month period. That 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.
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 on 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.
Now that you’re a gingivitis expert be sure it doesn’t take hold of your gums. Call Dr. Miller at 503-640-9310 for your next appointment.
Posted in: Gum Diseases