February is gum disease awareness month! Coincidence that it falls during the same month as Valentine’s Day?
The truth is, you can’t have a healthy mouth without healthy gums....and a healthy mouth is extremely important as we approach the holiday centered around love, smiling, and kissing!
We know it’s not the most romantic topic, but it’s critical to learn about gum disease because knowledge, proactivity, and prevention are your best lines of defense against it. That’s why we’re going to cover all the different types of gum disease. And if you’re thinking, “I know I don’t have gum disease, so this article doesn’t apply to me.” Think again!
Nearly 50% of adults over the age of 30 will experience some type of gum disease, and this rate increases to 70% for adults over 65.
For the sake of kisses all over the world, let’s tackle this topic head-on, so we can all learn how to feel our best (and achieve optimal oral health) for all of the v-days to come.
different types of gum disease
Officially, there are two different types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. FYI, both are also commonly called “periodontal disease.”
Gingivitis is considered the early stage of gum disease. At this stage, you may notice redness, inflammation, irritation, swelling, and/or bleeding when you brush. They may seem subtle, but don’t ignore these signs! Your gums are telling you they need some extra TLC. At this point, these symptoms can be treated and reversed (we’ll go over how in a later section) before the gum disease progresses to your bone and tissue.
Periodontitis is the intermediate stage of gum disease, where the problem begins to progress to your teeth, tissue, and bone. At this stage, your gums have begun to separate from your teeth, potentially forming little “pockets” below the gum line....a comfy place for bacteria and plaque to gather and cause infection.
If you don’t seek treatment during the stages above, gum disease can progress to advanced periodontitis. If you reach this point, a lot of your teeth, tissue, and bone have been destroyed by infection, and your teeth may be loosening and shifting out of place. If the infection is aggressive enough, it could require tooth extraction.
The good news? You’re already here learning about the different types of gum disease, and knowledge is one of the best tools for treatment+prevention.
what are the signs of gum disease?
We touched on a few above, but the common signs of gum disease are outlined below.
Early stage gum disease symptoms include (but are not limited to):
- red / purplish gums
- inflammation / swelling
- pain / irritation
- bleeding when you brush
- receding gums (making your teeth look longer)
- persistent bad breath
- persistent bad taste in your mouth
Advanced stage gum disease symptoms include (but are not limited to):
- gum pockets (gums separating from your teeth)
- teeth shifting, so your bite doesn’t line up anymore
- teeth loosening / wiggling
- pus / buildup around your gums
If you notice any of these (even just the early stage gum disease symptoms), be sure to contact your dentist to start treatment right away. Again, don’t ignore these messages from your mouth!
medical treatments for gum disease
If you’re already experiencing some signs of gum disease, we recommend consulting your dentist immediately (if you haven’t already). Depending on the severity of your gum disease, advanced measures can/should be performed by a doctor, some of which are outlined below.
- scaling: this is the deep cleaning you’d get at your standard dentist visit. It involves removing the bacterial buildup on your teeth and around/under your gums.
- root planing: this involves smoothing the root surfaces to make it harder for bacteria, toxins, and tartar to build up.
- antibiotics: your dentist may prescribe antibiotic mouth rinses, gels, or pills to get rid of any infection.
- surgery: there are several types of surgeries that can treat periodontitis. Some of these include flap surgery (to reduce gum pockets), tissue grafts/regeneration (to remediate gum recession and bone damage), bone grafting (to strengthen damaged bones and prevent tooth loss), and more.
As you can see, these treatments are much more advanced than anything you can do at home, so it’s important to seek advice from a dental health professional when you notice signs of gum disease.
how to treat gum disease from home
With that being said, if you want to complement professional measures with at-home care methods, here’s some guidance on how to treat gum disease from home.
- diligent cleaning: daily oral hygiene routine should consist of brushing (at least) every morning and night with Davids, flossing at least once, and tongue scraping at least once.
- hydroxyapatite toothpaste: preliminary research suggests that nano-hydroxyapatite (n-HA) may improve gum health for those experiencing gum disease. You can find our lab-tested nano-hydroxyapatite toothpaste here.
- electric toothbrushing: this can be more effective in reducing plaque and tartar, just be sure to replace the toothbrush head every three months!
- oil pulling: your natural alternative to mouthwash! Fortified with herbs and botanicals, oil pulling gets rid of bad bacteria in your mouth without harming the good ones. It can also prevent dry mouth, strengthen your teeth, and transport herbs to the rest of your body.
- saltwater rinsing: as a natural disinfectant, salt water can ease/heal inflamed gums by reducing bacteria, removing food particles, and easing pain. It can also reduce bad breath.
- schedule your professional cleanings: you should visit your dentist for a deep cleaning (and check-up) every 6 months.
- healthy diet: avoid sugary foods/drinks (they promote bad bacteria), acidic foods/drinks, and hard foods (like nuts). Be sure to focus on foods that nurture your gut + oral microbiomes.
- avoid tobacco: smoking/chewing tobacco weakens your immune system, making it hard to fight off the bacterial infections that cause gum disease.
- treat dry mouth: in addition to oil pulling, ensure you’re drinking enough water, limiting caffeine, and avoiding alcohol-containing mouthwash if you have dry mouth. Also, using products that contain xylitol (like Davids) can help with saliva production/flow.
We want your mouth to feel calm, fresh, and vibrant....especially around Valentine’s Day! So if you continue to feel inflammation, pain, and/or discomfort, we (again) recommend seeking help from your dentist immediately. Remember, time is of the essence when it comes to gum disease!
happy valentine’s day!
Whether you’re celebrating with your special someone, your best friends, or yourself.....we wish you a Valentine’s Day full of love, smiles, and confidence!
On that note, did you know that every box of Davids has a secret love message printed on it? You can read more about our natural toothpaste love story here.
In the meantime, treat yourself and your loved one(s) to a tube of Davids. It’s the best natural toothpaste to help you feel your freshest....and feel the love from a small, family-owned and operated company!