Believe it or not, reversing gingivitis is entirely possible—and doing so is crucial in preventing gingivitis from progressing into severe gum disease (which could lead to gum recession and tooth loss).
Red, sore, swollen gums and bad breath caused by bacteria are nobody’s cup of tea, so knowing how to kick gingivitis to the curb is a must for a healthier smile. Here are seven tips for reversing the early signs of the disease.
1. Get Regular Professional Cleanings
Seeing a hygienist or dentist for regular professional cleanings is one of the best ways to get rid of gingivitis for good. Dental professionals thoroughly clean your teeth to get rid of gingivitis-causing bacteria and plaque using dental instruments, an ultrasonic device. The Mayo Clinic says gingivitis can clear up after a thorough professional cleaning if you have good at-home oral hygiene habits.
How often should you head to the dentist for professional cleanings? Your dentist may recommend you get there more often than every six months (for example, every three or four months) if you have gum disease.
2. Brush and Floss Often
In addition to regular professional cleanings, simply brushing and flossing well at home is another way to reverse gingivitis. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing every day to help fight gum disease and tooth decay. The ADA also suggests using a soft-bristled toothbrush, replacing your brush every three to four months (or more often if bristles are frayed or matted) and choosing a brush with the ADA Seal of Acceptance for a healthier smile. If you notice your toothbrush bristles are becoming frayed often, you may be applying too much pressure when brushing.
3. Use Antibacterial Mouthwash
Regularly use an antibacterial mouthwash to help get rid of gingivitis-causing bacteria (more so than just brushing and flossing alone) and reverse gum disease. Look for a mouthwash that’s specifically designed for treating gingivitis, and rinse as directed on package instructions. Typically, rinsing for 30 seconds twice a day (after brushing and flossing) is what’s recommended to help kill bacteria, keep breath fresh and get rid gingivitis.
4. Try Oil Massage or Oil Pulling
Believe it or not, using oil is an all-natural way to help reverse gingivitis. Massaging oil onto your gums gets rid of gingivitis-causing bacteria, according to a study published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology. Researchers who conducted the study found that people who massaged their gums with sesame oil, coconut oil or olive oil every day for three weeks had significant reductions in gingivitis-causing bacteria and plaque.
Oil pulling is another natural way to combat the gum disease. A 2017 review published in the International Journal of Health Sciences notes that the practice of swishing oil around in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes appears to reduce oral bacteria and gingivitis-causing plaque.
5. Stop Smoking
Smoking is a risk factor for gingivitis and more advanced gum disease, so kick smoking to the curb to keep your mouth healthy and boost your chance of reversing gingivitis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says smoking weakens your body’s immune system, making it harder to fight gum infections. Smoking also doubles your risk for gum disease compared to nonsmokers.
6. Chew Sugarless Gum
The ADA suggests chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals to help reduce tooth decay and neutralize acids produced by mouth bacteria. Be sure to look for sugarless chewing gum with the ADA seal, which contains non-cavity causing sweeteners like Xylitol instead of sugar.
7. Reduce Sugar and Refined Carb Intake
Steer clear of sugary foods and drinks, refined carbohydrates (especially white bread) and sticky foods like candies and dried fruit. Such foods can stick to your teeth, and the sugar in them leads to plaque buildup. Instead of soda, choose water as your drink of choice, and consume high-fiber foods (like fruits, veggies, dried beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds) for your source of carbohydrates.
Severe gum disease can result in painful gums, gum recession, loose teeth and even tooth loss. Treatment for severe gum disease may require surgery and be quite costly. That’s why reversing gingivitis before it becomes problematic is crucial for a healthier, pain-free smile.