You may be surprised to learn that early gum disease, called gingivitis, is very common among adults of all ages. According to a 2009 Health Canada survey, 88% of Canadians aged 20 and over exhibit signs of gum inflammation and 32% actually have gingivitis.1
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums caused by plaque buildup from inadequate oral hygiene. Plaque contains bacteria that releases toxins that irritate the gum tissue and cause inflammation. When plaque is not removed daily with tooth brushing and flossing, this leads to gingivitis and tooth decay.
Clearly, you need healthy gums to preserve your teeth, but most people with gingivitis do not even realize they have it. That is because changes in your gums can be subtle at first and, typically, not associated with pain or discomfort. If you are a young adult, you may incorrectly assume that gum disease is a problem that only affects older people.
Being in the dark about gingivitis is a risky proposition because if early gum disease is not identified and treated, it can progress into more advanced, irreversible gum disease, called periodontitis.
The consequences in the later stages of gum disease can be very serious and may include receding gums, damage to the bone and connective tissue around the tooth, and, in severe cases, tooth loss.
The good news is that gingivitis is preventable and reversible. You and your dental professional have the power to prevent the progression of early gum disease and protect your oral health by intervening early. Your first step: learn to recognize the signs of gingivitis.
Given that most adults in Canada have some degree of gingivitis, it is important for you to understand your own risks. You also need to be vigilant about the state of your gums because the signs of early gum disease can be easy to miss.
It is important to be on the lookout for the following signs and symptoms of gingivitis:
- Red, swollen and tender gums.
- Bleeding when you brush or floss.
- Recurring bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GINGIVITIS
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused by plaque buildup that can lead to periodontitis, a serious oral health disease that can lead to tooth loss.
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT OF GINGIVITIS
You can prevent gingivitis and even reverse the condition in its initial stages by maintaining good, daily oral hygiene, and having regular dental checkups and professional teeth cleaning. A good oral care routine that includes twice daily brushing, flossing and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthrinse can help support good oral health and prevent gingivitis.
It is critical to take action when you first see the symptoms of gingivitis, because if left untreated, it can progress into a more serious (non-reversible) condition known as periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss.
Your teeth make up 25 per cent of the total surface area in your mouth (Kerr et al 2), but plaque-causing bacteria lurk everywhere in your mouth. So while brushing and flossing will help keep plaque from causing problems with your gum health, you are only reaching 25 per cent of your mouth. Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash for 30 seconds reaches virtually 100 per cent of your mouth, killing the germs that cause plaque and gingivitis (Charles 20003).
A complete oral hygiene regimen means brushing twice a day, flossing between the teeth once a day and rinsing twice a day with an effective antiseptic mouthwash, like LISTERINE®.
The added oral care value of LISTERINE® antiseptic mouthwash has been validated by the Canadian Dental Association.
References: 1 Health Canada, Canadian Health Measures Survey 2007–2009. “Percent of participants by highest score for gingivitis – dentate adults.” 2 Kerr, WJS, Kelly J, Geddes DAM. The areas of various surfaces in the human mouth from nine years to adulthood. J Dent Res. 1991;70(12):1528-30. 3Charles J Clin Cent, 2000; n(4) 94-97