The short answer to this question is yes, gingivitis can usually be reversed. But how do you know that you have gingivitis or periodontitis? Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support the tooth. It can be categorized into gingivitis (early stage) and periodontitis (advanced stage). Gingivitis is a reversible condition. However, if gingivitis is left untreated, the infection may spread to the tooth-supporting tissues (bone and periodontal ligaments). The spread of infection to the tooth-supporting tissues can cause complications such as pain, dental pockets, dental abscess, gum recession, tooth mobility, and even tooth loss. Some damages can’t be reversed. In this article, we will discuss gingivitis, periodontitis, and how gingivitis can be reversed.
What are Gingivitis & Periodontitis? Can Both be Reversed?
Can gingivitis be reversed? To know the complete answer to this question, you should first know what gingivitis is and its causes. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum tissues (gingiva), which commonly occurs as a result of plaque build-up on teeth surfaces. Dental plaque is a film of bacteria that constantly accumulates on teeth surfaces, especially after eating. Plaque irritates the gums, causing gingivitis. At this stage, no irreversible damage to the bone or surrounding tissue has occurred. You can easily remove plaque with brushing and flossing. If you don’t brush or floss your teeth regularly, plaque will harden and turn into tartar (calculus), which can’t be removed by brushing and flossing. So, you will need to visit your dentist for professional teeth cleaning.
Gingivitis can be reversed by professional teeth cleaning. However, if the inflammation spreads to the surrounding tissues, this may cause permanent damage to the bone and surrounding tissues. This condition is known as Periodontitis, which breaks down the bone and tissues that support the tooth. Periodontitis can cause pain, dental pockets, and gum recession. Over time, the tooth may become loose and need to be extracted.
Causes & Risk Factors
Several factors increase the risk of gingivitis, including:
- Poor oral hygiene: the accumulation of plaque and tartar between and around teeth irritates the gum tissues, causing gingivitis. In the early stage, gingivitis can be reversed. However, if the inflammation spreads to the tooth surrounding tissues, this can lead to the destruction of the tooth-supporting tissues, causing tooth loss.
- Hormonal changes: gingivitis may occur as a result of hormonal changes during puberty, menopause, pregnancy, and menstrual cycle.
- Smoking: regular smoking causes dry mouth and increases the risk of gingivitis.
- Nutrient-poor diet: a diet that lacks certain nutrients such as vitamin C may contribute to gum disease.
- Age: gum disease occurs more often in older age than a younger ages.
- Certain medications and medical conditions: some medications can cause dry mouth and gingivitis as a side effect, for example, anti-convulsants, hypertensive medications, and chemotherapy drugs. Also, some medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus are linked to a higher risk of gingivitis.
How to Know If You Have Gingivitis? (Signs & Symptoms)
Know the symptoms of gingivitis to reverse it early. In the early stage, gingivitis may cause no discomfort or pain. So, you should know the signs and symptoms of gingivitis to visit your dentist early and reverse it easily. If you ignore these signs and symptoms, the inflammation may progress and spread to the tooth-supporting tissues and eventually cause tooth loss. The signs and symptoms include:
- Red, soft, and swollen gums. Healthy gums are pink and firm. Read more about “gingivitis vs healthy gums”.
- Gum bleeding during brushing or flossing.
- Bad breath.
- Gums are tender to touch.
- Receding gums. Teeth appear longer due to gum recession, especially anterior teeth.
Can Gingivitis be Reversed?
Yes, gingivitis can be reversed. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, which commonly occurs due to plaque and tartar build-up. Also, it may occur due to smoking, dry mouth, and vitamin C deficiency. By treating the underlying cause of gingivitis, inflamed gums can be reversed into healthy gums.
However, If you left gingivitis untreated, the inflammation will spread to the tooth-supporting tissues such as bone and periodontal ligaments (tooth anatomy). This stage is known as periodontitis, which can cause permanent damage that can’t be reversed. Complications of periodontitis include severe gum recession, dental pockets, dental abscess, tooth mobility, and even tooth loss. So, you should visit your dentist regularly to reverse gingivitis early.
How is Gingivitis Reversed?
If you have gum bleeding or red, swollen gums, you should visit your dentist immediately for diagnosis and treatment.
Reverse Gingivitis at Dental Office
Gingivitis can be reversed by professional teeth cleaning, which involves the removal of plaque and tartar from teeth surfaces and below the gum line. When plaque is left on tooth surfaces, it hardens and turns into tartar, which can’t be removed by brushing or flossing. At the dental office, your dentist will use an ultrasonic scaler to remove tartar and reverse gingivitis. Also, your dentist will treat problems that facilitate the accumulation of plaque and tartar, such as cavities in between teeth and poorly fitted crowns or bridges.
Care at Home
After professional teeth cleaning, you should practice good oral hygiene to reverse gingivitis and prevent it from returning. Care at home includes:
- Brush your teeth regularly with a soft-bristled toothbrush, especially after eating.
- Floss your teeth at least once daily to remove plaque from between teeth.
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash.
- Eat a well-balanced diet and drink a lot of water.
- Stop smoking.
- Both professional teeth cleaning and care at home will reverse gingivitis.
Prevent Gingivitis and Reverse It Early
To prevent gingivitis and reverse it early, you should practice good oral hygiene.
- Brush and floss your teeth regularly: brush your teeth at least twice daily to remove plaque before it hardens into tartar. Also, use dental floss at least once a day to remove plaque from between teeth.
- Use antibacterial mouthwash: to get rid of bacteria that cause gum disease and reverse gingivitis.
- Stop smoking: smoking increases the risk of gingivitis and periodontitis (advanced gum disease). It weakens your body’s immune system, making it harder to fight infection.
- Limit sugary food intake: stay away from sugary food and refined carbs (white bread) because the consumptions of these foods lead to plaque build-up.
- Eat a healthy diet: instead of sugary foods and refined carbs, eat high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, & seeds.
- Get regular professional cleaning: you should visit your dentist or oral hygienist regularly for professional teeth cleaning. Your dentist can detect gingivitis early and reverse it easily. Untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis (advanced gum disease), which may cause permanent damage.
- Stages of gum disease include gingivitis (early stage) and periodontitis (advanced stage).
- Gingivitis is a reversible condition that commonly occurs due to the accumulation of plaque on teeth surfaces and under the gums.
- Periodontitis can cause permanent damage that can’t be reversed.
- Signs and symptoms of gingivitis include red gums and gums bleeding during brushing or flossing.
- Gingivitis can be reversed by professional teeth cleaning, which involves the removal of plaque and tartar from teeth surfaces and below the gum line.
- You should practice good oral hygiene after professional teeth cleaning to prevent gingivitis from returning.
- Also, eat a healthy diet, stop smoking, and schedule regular appointments with your dentist for professional cleaning.