If you spit pink every time you brush your teeth, you probably have gum disease. Mild gum disease – or gingivitis – is the chronic build-up of bacteria-laden plaque and tarter on your teeth that only a dentist can remove.
How gum disease gets worse
The longer plaque stays there, the more inflammation and swelling it’ll cause around your gums. The simple act of brushing your teeth irritates the swollen gums and makes them bleed.
The problem: Most don’t even know they have gingivitis because it normally doesn’t cause pain until it worsens.
And you definitely don’t want it to get that point. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can turn into periodontitis, said Men’s Health advisor Mark S. Wolff, DDS. Your teeth may loosen or, in extreme cases, fall out or need to be removed.
It can also affect more than your mouth: Gum disease is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
How to keep your teeth and gums healthy
The only way to get rid of or avoid gingivitis is to practice good oral hygiene. You should brush twice a day and floss every night to discourage plaque build-up.
Sounds like simple advice, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to screw up. Make an appointment with your dentist. Patients with bleeding gums or signs of cavities – toothache, pain when eating hot or cold food or when biting down – should get a cleaning every three months, Wolff said.
A build-up of plaque – the cause of gum disease – also causes cavities. If you don’t have any symptoms now, but have had cavities in the past, you should make an appointment every six months to a year, Wolff said. – Men’s Health