*It seems as though the 300 or so types of bacteria that homestead in our mouths have a biting sense of humor. We fight them tooth and nail to prevent cavities. Then, just as we think we’re flossing enough and brushing enough to stop cavities, bacteria burrow into another area-our gums. As we get older, neglect of our gums begins to catch up with us until, when we’ve reached age 35 or so, our dentist mentions gum disease.
The earliest and most treatable form of gum disease is gingivitis, a buildup of bacterial plaque that causes gums to redden, swell and bleed easily. Although this kind of gum disease is painless, failing to treat gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a condition that eventually causes tooth loss.
Brushing after meals and daily flossing comprise the one-two punch that can help keep your gums in the pink. But beyond the basics, here are some other ways to help put the bite on gingivitis.
What happens if you ignore the sore, bleeding gums that are a sign of gingivitis? You risk more serious periodontal disease and the possible loss of teeth.
Here are the signs that warn you your gingivitis is getting more serious. If you have any of them, see your dentist immediately.
• You have bad breath that doesn’t go away within 24 hours.
• Your teeth look longer-a result of your gums shrinking away from your teeth.
• Your mouth feels out of alignment when you shut it because your teeth come together differently.
• Your partial denture fits differently.
• Pus pockets from between your teeth and gums.
• Your teeth are loose, fall out or break off near the gum line.
Also, if your gums still bleed when you brush your teeth and continue to be sore and swollen despite your efforts at good oral hygiene, you need to see your dentist again.
Go electric.”Various studies show that you’ll remove more plaque with an electric toothbrush than brushing manually,” says Palm Harbor, Florida, dentist Paul Caputo D.D.S. The Interplak electric toothbrush removes 80 percent more plaque than a regular toothbrush, he says.
Add muscle to your mouth. Just as bones in the rest of your body can get brittle and shrink, so can your teeth and jawbone-making you more susceptible to gingivitis and other problems. “Calcium seems to help people with gingivitis, “says Dr. Caputo. “It strengthens bones and teeth.” Drinking two glasses of skim milk a day provides about 90 percent of your Recommended Dietary Allowance of calcium.*
The Doctors Book of Home Remedies II
By: Sid Kirchheimer and the editors of PREVENTION Magazine Health Books