Do you know the signs of gingivitis?
That little bit of blood in your toothpaste every time you spit? That's not supposed to be there. Gingivitis is the swelling and irritation of the gingiva, which is the upper part of your gum at the base of your teeth, and if it's not taken care of quickly it can lead to tooth loss, periodontitis, and other gum diseases.
Apart from a bit of blood when you brush, other signs and symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Puffy, swollen gums
- Dark red gums
- Tender gums
- Bad breath
- Receding gumline
Gingivitis begins most often with poor dental health. When the biofilm on teeth isn't brushed away regularly, it can build up to form plaque, and that plaque is what causes irritation. Then, as the plaque builds, it turns into calculus-otherwise known as tartar-which is much more difficult to remove than plaque and is a breeding ground for bacteria. Only a professional dental cleaning can remove calculus. If that calculus isn't addressed, it will begin to irritate the gingiva, causing irritation, which then allow the gums to bleed more easily. This bleeding then opens the door to more bacteria getting directly into the gums and the bloodstream, leading to tooth loss, periodontitis and the risk of various other diseases.
What increases the risk of gingivitis?
Poor brushing habits are the most common risk factors for gingivitis, but other conditions can contribute to the risk, including:
- Dry mouth
- Poor nutrition
- Dental restorations that don't fit well
- Conditions that cause a decrease in immunity such as HIV/AIDS, leukemia, or cancer treatments
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Old age
- Hormonal changes
- Viral and fungal infections
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Dental Care and Dementia
Older adults suffering from forms of dementia such as Alzheimer's disease should be allowed to conduct their own dental care for as long as they can, with reminders from family and caregivers, and supervision if neded. Establishing a daily care routine in the early stages of dementia is particularly important as assistance in brushing teeth may be needed later on.
Since it can often be challenging to communicate with someone who has dementia, it may be hard to tell if that person is suffering from mouth pain or discomfort. If you're a caregiver or family member of someone with dementia, it can help to keep an eye out for the following signs of potential dental problems:
- Refusing to eat hot or cold foods, or any food
- Frequent pulling at the face and mouth
- Increased moaning, shouting, or restlessness
- Refusal to take part in daily activities
- Aggressive behavior
- Disturbed sleep
- Not wearing dentures ("Dental Care," Alzheimer's Society, https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20029/daily_living/9/dental_care/3)
Dealing with Common Dental Emergencies
Let's face it, accidents happen and dental emergencies occur. Here are a few ways to deal with them when they come up:
- Knocked-out tooth: try to put the tooth back in its socket without touching the root. If you can't, then either place the tooth in your child's cheek next to the gum, or if you're worried about the child swallowing the tooth, place it in a glass of milk and call your dentist immediately.
- Cracked tooth: rinse the nouth with warm water to clean it out and give the child a cold compress to place against the side of the mouth to keep any swelling down. Then call your dentist immediately.
- Tongue or lip bite: rinse the mouth with warm water and apply a cool or cold compress to the affected area.
- Toothaches: rinse the mouth with warm water and gently use dental floss to remove any food caught between teeth, as this can be exacerbating the pain. Call your dentist as soon as it's convenient.
- Objects stuck in teeth: try to use floss to gently remove it, but if that doesn't work, call the dentist. Do not try to use a sharp, solid instrument to remove the object as it may cause further damage.
This information was taken from a chapter in my first book titled Changing the Face of Dentistry. Part Two of the book, Your Mouth at Every Age, is a great reference guide detailing what you can expect from your mouth at every age..
To purchase a copy of the book, click here: https://www.amazon.com/Changing-Face-Dentistry-Achieve-Wellness/dp/1642250244/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1534703502&sr=8-1&keywords=changing+the+face+of+dentistry