There are over 700 different species that make up the microbiome in your mouth. That equates to millions of oral bacteria that call your teeth home.

Much of that bacteria is there for a reason and helps freshen breath, digest food, and inhibit plaque formation. However, a lack of good oral hygiene can lead to an overabundance of the bad bacteria. The good bacteria gets crowded out, leading to more serious dental issues down the road such as the gum disease gingivitis.

Let’s take a look at how to keep that bad bacteria at bay and prevent gingivitis from forming.

Early Signs

Gingivitis, also referred to as periodontal disease, is quite common. According to the CDC, almost half of all American adults have varying degrees of periodontal disease. This isn’t cause for alarm, as gingivitis can be successfully managed with a good oral hygiene routine.

Some symptoms you might be able to spot without the help of a dentist include:

  • Swollen or irritated gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Gums that bleed when flossing
  • Dark red gums
  • Sensitive teeth

It’s a good idea to schedule a dental visit as soon as you can if you do spot any of the signs above.

Treatment at Home

What can be done at home to help keep gingivitis at bay? Here are a few regular steps you can take on your own to  mitigate the spread of gingivitis:

  • Use a good, plaque-neutralizing toothpaste
  • Get an anti-gingivitis mouthwash
  • Brush twice a day, two minutes each time
  • Floss your teeth every single day
  • Replace your toothbrush every few months
  • Modify your diet by reducing sugar consumption

If you start to notice the color or texture of your gums begin to change, schedule a visit with your dentist. They’ll be able to reverse any damage before it leads to worsening periodontitis.


When inflammation hits the tissue of your gums, gingivitis begins to form. This inflammation is a result of too much plaque buildup. The reason dentists recommend you brush your teeth twice per day is that plaque forms easily on your teeth.

When bacteria hits the starches and sugars in your mouth from foods or drinks, plaque begins to form. When plaque isn’t removed with proper brushing and flossing techniques, it begins to harden on your teeth and under your gumline. When it reaches this level, it’s referred to as tartar.

The presence of tartar makes the plaque more difficult to remove. When plaque and tartar are allowed to remain on your teeth for extended periods of time without a professional cleaning, gingivitis begins to form around the base of your teeth.

Gum Health

So, apart from regular brushing and flossing, what can you do to avoid developing gingivitis? There are a few steps you can follow to lessen your risk:

  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid chewing tobacco
  • Follow a healthy diet
  • Take your vitamins
  • See your dentist regularly

The last tip is crucial. Some people have certain risk factors that may lead them to develop a more severe form of gingivitis. Certain medications can lead to dry mouth, which leads to gum inflammation. Some diseases such as diabetes can also lead to an increased risk of gingivitis.

For those who possess an increased risk, seeing your dentist regularly is of utmost importance.

Dental Treatment

Your dentist will focus on controlling plaque and tartar buildup when you go in for a cleaning. Treating gingivitis is all bout controlling infection, and getting your gums and teeth back to a healthy level.

The processes for removing tartar and bacteria are called scaling and root planing. Scaling is the process by which the actual tartar and bacteria get removed from the teeth and gums. Planing refers to a deep cleaning process by which the roots of your teeth get smoothed out. This process helps your gums safely reattach to your teeth without bacteria present.

The process of scaling and root planing might take more than one visit depending on the amount of tartar and bacteria buildup.

Additional Treatment Options

There are surgical options available as well for more severe forms of periodontitis. Options include:

  • Soft tissue grafts
  • Pocket reduction surgery
  • Bone grafts
  • Guided tissue regeneration

These forms use more invasive techniques than a simple planing or scaling. For example, in certain cases of advanced gum disease, the bone surrounding your teeth can be destroyed. Bone grafting is used to rebuild damaged bone via a transplant.

Pocket reduction surgery helps expose the roots of your teeth for better reach. Gum tissue gets lifted after tiny cuts are made in the gums. This allows the dentist to more thoroughly perform root scaling and planing.

Everyday Tips

In order to avoid more invasive surgery, there are certain steps you can take before seeing your dentist. Practicing good oral hygiene will help keep bad bacteria at bay. Taking little steps every day will help prevent the unnecessary build-up of plaque.

Remember to floss before you brush to remove food particles from those hard-to-reach areas. You can brush after every meal but be careful not to brush too soon. Acidic foods tend to soften the enamel of the tooth, and brushing too soon after eating can cause you to brush your enamel right off.

If you’ve eaten anything acidic, wait 30 minutes before completing your brushing routine. Eating foods that are healthy and low in sugar will also help keep bad bacteria at bay and prevent gingivitis.

Trying to Prevent Gingivitis?

Follow these tips above and your gums will thank you. You don’t have to take drastic measures to prevent gingivitis. By simply brushing and flossing properly every day, you’re already drastically reducing the likelihood of plaque and tartar buildup that leads to gingivitis.

If you’re in the Georgetown area and are looking to schedule a checkup, look no further. Here at Thompson Family & Implant Dentistry, we provide a compassionate environment for all of your dentistry needs. You can use our contact form here to set up an appointment today to get started.

We look forward to seeing you!