Gum infection starts when a clear, sticky film (composed mainly of bacteria), commonly known as plaque, is allowed to sit in the mouth. It can harden under your gum line, causing tartar to form. Tartar acts as a catchment area for bacteria and causes the degeneration of your gum tissue, giving rise to periodontal diseases—associated with receding gums and eventual tooth loss. Gingivitis is the mildest manifestation of periodontal disease, and if left untreated, may progress to periodontitis and ultimately, loss of teeth. However, there are treatments available and some are within your control
Your first line of defense is oral hygiene. All it takes is conscientious attention to the basics of oral hygiene and you will have a good chance of preventing gum infection. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. Dental professionals also advocate using an electric toothbrush, which is more effective at removing plaque and tartar. For even more thorough cleaning, use an interdental cleaner, such as a dental pick, to clean between your teeth.
Professional cleaning will help to keep tartar build-up in control. Visit your dental hygienist at least twice a year.
Gum Friendly Foods
Certain foods are gum friendly and help to promote gum health. Munch on fresh fruits and vegetables as they are powerhouses of vitamins and antioxidants. In particular, vitamin C protects body tissue and speeds up bone regeneration while vitamin D is anti-inflammatory, reducing the inflammation of gum tissue. According to Reuters.com, Japanese researchers found that eating yogurt and foods with lactic acid are closely linked to better periodontal health. Another notable is green tea, as reported in the Journal of Periodontology. Green tea’s potent antioxidants, catechins, promote healthy teeth and gums.
Conversely, avoid sugary foods and drinks—sugar breeds bacteria. In the same vein, go easy on foods that stick to your teeth and gums, such as dried fruits, taffy and sticky foods.
Non-surgical Dental Procedures
If gum infection has already affected the health of your gums, you need to seek professional dental help to properly address the problem. The treatment your dentist decides upon depends on the severity of the gum problem.
Dentists generally use scaling and root planing as the first line of treatment for initial periodontal disease. This procedure aims to remove calcified irritants under the gums and reduce further inflammation and infection. An instrument or ultrasonic device is used to buff deposits off the teeth. Root planning smooths out the rough surfaces to prevent future buildup of tartar.
In some cases, the dentist or periodontist may recommend the use of topical or oral antibiotics to control bacterial infection. These may include antibiotic mouthwash or the insertion of threads or gel containing antibiotics into spaces between the teeth or pockets made by receding gums.
In severe cases of periodontisis, surgical intervention may be necessary to prevent further damage to the gums or to prevent tooth loss. These surgeries either involve reducing the size of pockets made by receding gums or stimulating bone regrowth at the root of the teeth to replace bone that is lost through periodontisis.