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- Patient Comments: Gum Disease - Symptoms
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- What is gum disease (gingivitis)?
- What is the difference between gingivitis and periodontal disease?
- What causes gum disease?
- Does gum disease cause bad breath?
- What does gum disease look like? What are gum disease symptoms and signs?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose gum disease?
- What is the treatment for gum disease?
- What types of specialists treat gum disease?
- What types of medication are used to treat gum disease?
- Are home remedies or natural treatments effective for gum disease?
- Is it possible to reverse gum disease?
- Is gum disease associated with other health problems?
- How is gum disease managed in children?
- How is gum disease managed in pregnancy?
- Is it possible to prevent gum disease?
- What is the best toothpaste to use to prevent gum disease?
- Is gum disease contagious?
Quick GuideThe Ugly Truth About Your Toothbrush & Germs
Is it possible to prevent gum disease?
Prevention of gingivitis and periodontal disease is very simple in most cases. Gum disease is best prevented through proper plaque control. This involves brushing to remove plaque from the outer surfaces of the teeth and flossing to remove food particles and plaque from in between the teeth. Electronic toothbrushes tend to make it easier to remove plaque from some of the harder to reach areas of the mouth. Using a mouthwash after brushing and flossing can also help by reducing the bacteria that cause gingivitis.
Besides these basic oral hygiene practices, there are other things that can be done to eliminate the factors that lead to an increase in gum disease:
- Sleep/stress: The immune system is very important in controlling disease, and getting adequate sleep and reducing stress will help the body fight gum disease, too.
- Stop smoking: Smokers are much more likely to develop gingivitis and periodontal disease, so avoiding tobacco should be the first thing someone does to achieve healthy gums.
- Orthodontic therapy or braces: It is much easier to remove plaque from straight teeth than crowded, overlapped, and crooked teeth. Braces can make a big difference in having healthier gums.
- Diet: Limiting the frequency of plaque-causing sugars and carbohydrates will help limit plaque. Eating a well-balanced diet will help keep the body's immune system healthy and ready to fight infection.
What is the best toothpaste to use to prevent gum disease?
The goal of toothbrushing is to remove plaque on the teeth that will harbor bacteria and cause gum disease and tooth decay. Just about any toothpaste when used with consistent thorough brushing habits will accomplish this goal. There are some ingredients in toothpastes that help remove plaque more effectively and help keep plaque off the teeth after they have been brushed. The abrasive agents in toothpaste such as silicates and calcium carbonates help remove plaque that is a little sticky. Sodium lauryl sulfate is a detergent in toothpaste that causes the foaming effect of toothpastes. Toothpastes vary in the amount of SLS they contain; a high concentration of SLS can cause problems for patients who have dry mouth or low saliva flow. Some toothpastes include plaque-control agents such as pyrophosphates and zinc citrate that prevent plaque from sticking to the teeth after they've been brushed. Using a toothpaste that contains any combination of these ingredients will increase the effectiveness of oral hygiene.
Furthermore, rinsing with an essential-oil containing dentifrice (mouthwash) for 30 seconds twice daily after brushing helps prevent plaque buildup even more.
Is gum disease contagious?
While most of the factors that lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease are dependent on the individual, there has been some limited scientific evidence to affirm that gingivitis and periodontitis-causing bacteria can be passed down from parents to children and between couples.
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Neville, Brad W., et al. Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology. 2nd ed. Saunders, 2002.
Snider, J. "Green tea may promote periodontal health." The Journal of the American Dental Association 140.7 (2009) 838.
Stephen, James M. "Gingivitis." Medscape.com. Dec. 31, 2014. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/763801-overview>.