According to Santa Ana dentist, Dr. Danial Kalantari, the majority of his patients have gingivitis.  The NY Times states that over 75% of the population has gingivitis.  While this disease is mild with limited symptoms and side effects, it is the first step towards serious periodontal disease.  It is also a chronic infection that your body is constantly fighting, weakening the immune system against other attacks.


A daily routine of flossing, brushing, and using a mouthwash are the best initial ways to prevent gingivitis.  Brushing is not good at removing plaque between the teeth.  Flossing and mouthwash help to remove plaque and kill bacteria between the teeth and between the tooth and gums.


To help protect your gums, you should brush with your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle along the connection between the teeth and the gums.  Only use a soft bristled brush.  Soft bristled brushes work as well as hard bristled brushes and they help to prevent abrasive damage to the teeth and gums.  Many people press too hard when brushing with the hope that it will remove more plaque.  However, studies show that no more plaque is removed and the strong-handed brushing can wear away tooth enamel and cause gums to recede.


People using electric toothbrushes should be especially careful with the amount of pressure they apply.  Because electric toothbrushes are specifically designed to take care of all the abrading themselves, adding further force puts the teeth and gums at risk.  Proper technique for using an electric toothbrush is putting the toothbrush to each tooth, front and back, and holding it there for a few seconds.  The only motion you need to do is to move the brush from tooth to tooth and to rotate the brush at different angles to make sure you reach all the tooth surfaces.  Further action is not required.  Certain electric toothbrushes like Philips Sonicare, offer sensitive brush heads to further help prevent abrasive side effects.


If you ever feel pain on the gums after brushing, see if you can brush more gently and look for a softer tooth brush head.  Pain in the gums can happen during flossing due to the inflammation that accompanies gingivitis.  The pain should go away with a consistent flossing practice.  If the pain does not go away schedule an appointment at Smiles on Bristol Dentistry, or with your local dentist to diagnose any potential problems.


Because the gums do not attach to the teeth at the very top, patients need to make sure the floss slides down the tooth between the tooth and gum until the gum stops it.  For people with very tight teeth, certain string floss can be a problem as it can catch between the teeth and get stuck.  There are a number of floss options on the market such as Oral-B’s Glide Floss which is made up of thin, soft material.  There is a much smaller chance of catching and even if the floss gets stuck, it breaks cleanly rather than shredding and knotting up between the teeth.


For people who hate the sensation of flossing, there are, also, a number of options.  One of the best, but also one of the most expensive is a WaterPik – an electric water floss.  The WaterPik shoots streams of water at varying intensities and has been shown to be much gentler on the gums, while still being as effective if not more than string floss.  The WaterPik should be aimed at the connection between gums and teeth and between the teeth.  Simply holding the stream on each location for 3 seconds efficiently cleans out plaque, stuck food, and bacteria.  There are also brushes that brush between teeth like Proxabrush called interdental cleaners.


Mouthwash gets where flossing and toothbrushing miss.  It is formulated to kill bacteria which helps stop gingivitis and bad breath.  There are store-bought mouthwashes and a number of other natural remedies that can be used.  Because most mouthwashes are acidic to help kill the bacteria, try to always use a mouthwash that contains fluoride and only use mouthwash after brushing the teeth.  The teeth will be strengthened and protected by the layer of fluoride so that the acid will only kill the bacteria and will not damage the teeth. Rinsing with lemon juice or cranberry juice can also kill bacteria.  Both are highly acidic so they kill bacteria, but again only use after the teeth have been protected with fluoride.  Cranberries also have additional antibacterial properties which can help the mouth.  Do not use juices with added sugar as a mouthwash as this will simply feed the bacteria.


Taking Vitamin C boosts the immune system which can help it fight the bacteria in your mouth.  Rinsing the mouth with warm salt water also has great benefits.  Salt works to kill bacteria, as well as prevent further bacteria growth.  A study from the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology found that rinsing the mouth with turmeric also has great anti-bacterial effects and it helps to reduce inflammation.  Aloe Vera has many known health benefits.  In its pure form, it can be used on the gums and is effective at fighting bacteria and fungus.  Plus, it has soothing effects to comfort painful, swollen gums.  Either chewing guava leaves or making a rinse with guava leaf extract also has great properties for the mouth.  Not only does it fight bacteria and microbials, but it provides topical pain relief.


For persistent gingivitis, characterized by red, swollen gums, bleeding while flossing, and occasionally painful gums, talk to your dentist for further advice and demonstrations proper brushing and flossing techniques.  For people in Santa Ana, feel free to call Dr. Kalantari at Smiles on Bristol Dentistry for a thorough consultation and diagnosis.