The short answer is yes, but there are exceptions to gingivitis and that will depend on the severity of the disease.
But first, a brief, boring, devoid of all humor, exceptionally dry explanation for your reference.
Gingivitis is defined as a mild form of gum disease where the gums appear red and puffy and often bleed during tooth-brushing or flossing. It’s typically caused by the overgrowth of bacteria where the tooth and gum meet. The body reacts to the bacteria and it’s toxins by increasing blood flow which causes the gums to swell and bleed. Basically, you haven’t brushed well…lately.
Periodontitis is defined as inflammation of (ALL the tissues around the teeth) including the bone. Yes, bone can become inflamed. It’s caused by a more aggressive form of bacteria and their toxins. They infect the surrounding gum which causes bleeding, odor, pus formation, and the gradual loss of bone that support the teeth. This is a more severe form of gingivitis that’s been allowed to persist. Basically, you haven’t brushed well for a very, long time and may want to consider making an appointment with you know who…. soon.
So back to the question, “Is gingivitis reversible”, “will my gums heal” etc. etc.… Yes, BUT you’ll have to make some changes to HOW you brush and realize that any gains you make are only temporary if you fail to maintain adequate brushing over the long term. You’ve got gingivitis for a reason. In 20 years of practice I’ve yet to see a case of gingivitis that couldn’t be corrected, or prevented by making just a few minor adjustments to brushing technique.
Therefore, if you were recently diagnosed with gingivitis, notice your gums bleeding, or think you may have gingivitis, perform the following in this order.
1. Learn the Bass method of tooth brushing. This ensures that you will be brushing 45 degrees into the gum line where all those nasty little critters camp out and keep the fires of inflammation stoked. If you need help with this tooth brushing method go to Amazon and purchase the MD Brush. It was made for the Bass method and breaks the cycle of poor tooth brushing. However, be prepared, if you’ve spent your entire life brushing on autopilot without any consideration to what you were physically doing, changing to the Bass method will be like driving on the left side of the road in Scotland for the very 1st time. Be patient, your teeth are worth it. Usually 2-3 days with the MD Brush is average to break the habit and retrain the arm.
2. Floss – Yes, I know it sucks, and nobody does it but we’re preventing gingivitis, right? Personally, and professionally, I’m OK if you floss 3 times a week, BUT there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Simply popping the floss in between the teeth won’t cut the mustard or should I say goop. You must scrape the teeth, which means pulling or pushing against the teeth when the floss goes up and down in between the teeth. Oh, and those little wishbone thingies with the floss in-between; not a fan. I’ve still seen cases of gingivitis with them. If you’re going to take the time to floss, do it the right, and use the stuff that wraps around your digits. I like the GLIDE brand.
3. Lastly, right before you go to bed, (after you’ve brushed, and flossed) take a big ole slug of Listerine mouthwash, preferable the one with the alcohol; why, because it’s just more fun, and kills more bacteria. Swish around for 30 seconds and then brush your teeth…. again. Notice, I didn’t say spit the Listerine out. It will be like brushing your teeth with a mouthful of scotch, although not nearly as smooth or expensive depending on your pallet. After the requisite 30 seconds, you may spit the Listerine out; but be advised, your first impulse will be to rinse away that toxic scotch burning sensation; you don’t want to do that. Provided you don’t rinse, the residual Scotch/Listerine will continue to kill bacteria for several hours providing a lasting effect that prevents the growth of new bacteria, YEAH. Brushing with Listerine is different from rinsing, because it forces the gums to open up, allowing greater penetration below the gum line.
I only recommend using Listerine once a day. Like any alcohol, moderation is key.
If you think you have periodontal disease, notice pus, or have teeth that are loose; make an appointment with your dentist today. Periodontal disease is serious, and can put you at higher risk for heart disease and a few other nasties not to mention a full plate denture.
Written By Mike Davidson – Maverick Dental Hygienist and CEO