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Gingivitis, an early and mild form of gum disease, is the only stage of gum disease that’s reversible, according to the American Dental Association’s Mouth Healthy site. That means the sooner you detect and treat gingivitis symptoms, the quicker your mouth can return to normal.

Mayo Clinic explains that gingivitis occurs when plaque, a sticky substance made up of bacteria, builds up on the teeth and gums. Typical symptoms include gums that are red (instead of pink), bleed easily and are swollen. The gums can also feel tender and soft to the touch. The plaque hardens into tartar, and more plaque builds up on the tartar which then continues to irritate the gums. If you notice any of the above, it’s in your best interest to act quickly to help your mouth heal.

Brushing and Flossing

A slip in your oral hygiene routine can put you at risk of gingivitis. Not brushing or flossing regularly gives the plaque a chance to build up and inflame the gums. Get back in the habit of brushing at least twice a day, if not after every meal. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles so that you don’t irritate your gums further.

When you brush, choose a toothpaste with fluoride, which prevents cavities by strengthening your enamel and stopping the progression of tooth decay.

Flossing is also an important step in the fight against gingivitis. Floss removes pieces of food and plaque from between your teeth, helping to reduce not only your risk of gum disease but for cavities and tartar buildup as well.

Dental Cleaning

In the fight against gingivitis and gum disease, your dentist can and should be your closest ally. If you aren’t already seeing your dentist twice a year, you should be because you could have gum disease and not know it. Getting that regular checkup is important because your dentist can spot things you cannot.

During your appointment, your dentist or dental hygienist can perform a dental cleaning, which removes any tartar and plaque from within the gums that you can no longer remove on your own. They can also show you the best ways to brush and floss, to keep the gingivitis from returning or progressing.

Diets and Dentists

Twice-a-year dental visits and a good oral care routine at home will help lower your chances of redeveloping gingivitis.

Knowing the signs of gingivitis and how to prevent it can help you keep your mouth healthy. Keep up your regular dental appointments, and make a special trip to the dentist if you think you’re showing gingivitis symptoms.