By Joe Humphries
Gingivitis is an infection of the surface layer of your gums, an early form of gum disease. While noticing that your gums are inflamed, or bleeding, can cause alarm, you do not need to panic. Gingivitis can, most often, be treated at home.
The Signs and Symptoms of Gingivitis
Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease, which can result in tooth loss. Inconsistent care of your teeth and gums can cause gingivitis. Some medications and medical conditions can increase your risk. The symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Gums are swollen or inflamed
- Bleeding after brushing or flossing
- Gums are easily irritated
- Receding Gums
- Bad breath
Prevention of Gingivitis
Gingivitis can be prevented and eliminated with active daily oral Care. To prevent gingivitis be sure to engage in the following recommendations:
- Brush Your Teeth Twice Each Day
Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums and use short strokes without applying too much pressure. Using an antibacterial toothpaste can help neutralize plaque along your gumline. You should brush for two minutes twice each day. It may be helpful to set a timer to be sure you get a thorough clean.
- Floss Once Each Day
Flossing begins by winding most of an 18-inch length of floss around your finger of one hand with a small amount of floss around the finger of your opposite hand. You should unwind and use fresh floss between each of your teeth. Slide the floss gently between your teeth, curving the floss into a c shape at the gum line. You want the floss to get between your teeth and gums.
- Use Mouthwash After Bushing
Mouthwash kills the bacteria that brushing and flossing leave lingering in your mouth. Mouthwash alone will not prevent gingivitis, but when combined with brushing, flossing and regular dental cleaning, mouthwash can help keep your smile infection-free.
Home Care For Gingivitis
Since gingivitis is typically a minor infection, you may not even be aware of symptoms. Prevention is often the best defense. Even if you have noticeable symptoms, you can treat mild gingivitis on your own with these simple home remedies:
- Salt Water Rinse
Salt is a natural disinfectant that is easy to use. Simply dissolve ½ to ¾ of a teaspoon in warm water, then Swish the salt solution in your mouth for 30 seconds (then spit it out). Use this solution two or three times a day. This mixture is quite acidic, so you will want to resist the urge to use it for too long or too often.
- Lemongrass Oil
Lemongrass oil kills bacteria, including the bacteria that can cause gum disease. Add two or three drops of lemongrass essential oil to a cup of water and swish the lemongrass solution in your mouth for 30 seconds Then spit it out). You can use your lemongrass oil mouthwash up to three times per day. Be sure this essential oil is always well diluted, so it does not cause additional irritation.
- Pulling with Coconut Oil
The lauric acid in coconut oil is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. A 2015 study finds that oil pulling significantly reduces plaque deposits and reverses gingivitis. The directions for oil pulling include:
- Put 2-3 teaspoons of coconut oil in your mouth
- Swish the oil in your mouth for 20 minutes
- Do not spit the oil into your sink (clogs pipes)
- Spit the coconut oil into a paper cup or towel and throw it away
- Rinse your mouth with water
- Brush as usual
Knowing the signs and symptoms of gingivitis can reduce your risk of periodontal disease. With home treatment, your gingivitis symptoms should improve within a few days. Typically the condition should clear within two weeks. If your symptoms persist, it is best to contact your dentist’s office or schedule an appointment.
Joe Humphries is a contributing writer and media specialist for Denture Helper. He regularly writes for health blogs with an emphasis on oral care for adults and seniors.