Regular, effective teeth-brushing, twice daily, is your first line of defense against gingivitis and step one in curing it. Unfortunately, the symptoms of gingivitis -- tender, bleeding gums -- cause people to slack off on brushing. That's the wrong move. Brushing cleans away bacteria on the surface of your teeth and helps keep it from getting a foothold between teeth and under your gums. With regular care, the tenderness and bleeding should stop within a week or two. Gargling with warm saltwater or an antibacterial mouthwash helps reduce the swelling [source: NCBI].
So what, exactly, is effective brushing? Start with a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste that have the American Dental Association seal of approval. Toothpastes containing essential oils, as well as fluoride, are even better at fighting gingivitis. Then:
- Don't rush through the process. Spend at least 2 minutes brushing, giving full attention to each section of your mouth.
- Brush in small circles on the front, back and chewing surfaces of your teeth. Teeth are contoured, not flat; angle your brush to work all parts of the surface and get between teeth as much as possible.
- Tilt your toothbrush up (for top teeth) or down (for bottom teeth) at a 45-degree angle to work bristles under your gums.
- Brush your tongue. All those taste buds on your tongue give germs tons of surface area to grab on to, and they don't let go unless you scrape them off. Brushing your tongue also helps significantly freshen your breath.
After brushing, your mouth should feel clean and fresh, but you're not finished yet. Keep reading for step two in curing and preventing gingivitis.