Is it true that Flossing can reverse gum disease?
Can flossing reverse gum disease? Understanding how flossing works
“Can flossing reverse gum disease? ” A question no doubt comes to mind of most people, especially those who suffer from bleeding gums, inflamed gums and even gum recession, all originating from the incredible fear of going to the dentist, and trying to control a condition on your own. Fear of dentists is a global phenomenon, but unfortunately, some treatments can only be done by dentists, and you would need that visit eventually.
But until you decide to go, the question still remains: Can flossing reverse gums disease?
In short, Flossing can “stop” gum disease, but not “reverse” it, meaning that if you have an active disease of bleeding, inflammation and recession, regular flossing and impeccable oral hygiene could stop the progression of the disease into full blown periodontal disease; however, if damage was already done, very little of it can be reversed.
That may come as a disappointment to most people, but if you learn the reasons why flossing can’t reverse gum disease, you will put your mind at ease.
Let’s learn first the nature and structure of the gums. The gums are not just the pink flesh you see inside your mouth around the teeth, its structure is much more intricate and complicated. The gums are designed to cover the root of the tooth, but only the part that is covered by the bone, so in simpler terms .. No bone .. No gums.
The gums are held in place taut by groups of fibers that run all the way through, across and around the teeth, and are the main reason that the gums don’t sag. These fibers however are very delicate, and could be damaged easily if you brush too vigorously or if you suffer from gingivitis, and once these fibers are damaged, they can no longer support the gums and the process of gum recession occurs.
Now let’s understand how gum disease works. Gum disease most often starts in the areas between the teeth, those shielded and difficult to clean areas (which is why flossing is so important, since it is the only act that can effectively clean those areas).
When the teeth are left uncleaned for a while, food debris and remnants start to develop and gather around the teeth, and by time they turn into a film called the plaque. This plaque is full of bacteria which release toxins and chemicals that cause inflammation, swelling and eventually bleeding of the gums, which are the first signs of gum disease.
If this plaque is not removed, within a few days it starts to gather minerals (particularly Calcium) from the saliva and start to harden, forming hard Calculus (commonly known as tartar).
Tartar is the corner stone of gum disease. It is the first sign that gum disease is starting to turn into periodontal disease, which is much more dangerous since it includes loss of the gum fibers, loss of bone and support, and eventually gum recession would take place (with all the consequences of bad looks, sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks, and higher chances of decay), the final end result being loss of the tooth completely.
So to put it in simpler terms, there are 2 stages:
Understanding this difference, let’s go back to the main point: Is Gum disease reversible?
If gum disease is still in its early stages (we mean gingivitis) then by all means .. yes it is reversible. In this stage, no major damage has happened, only some chemicals and toxins that could easily be cleared away with a proper oral hygiene regimen of brushing, flossing and using mouth wash, and the inflammation subsides fairly quickly with no lasting effects, and in case you’re wondering how long does this reversal process take, know that it takes virtually no time at all, only a few days are enough to reverse the damage done by minor gingivitis.
However, if the condition is more developed (meaning periodontitis), then unfortunately, reversal is not possible, only stopping the condition from doing further harm. If periodontitis starts, and loss of fibers and bone start to happen, there is no going back simply because you decided to take more care of your oral hygiene, and reversal would take a lot of intervention from your dentist, up to and including surgeries! !
So the only thing you can do here is visit the dentist for his\her advice, and going back to strictly taking care of your oral hygiene or risk further harm.
Another important aspect is the gum recession .. so can receding gums grow back?
The answer is the same .. according to the condition and extent of the disease.
If the disease is still in the early stages (affecting only the pyramid shaped projections called the papillae between the teeth) then yes it is entirely reversible once the cause of the condition is removed, but if the recession is more advanced and a larger part of the neck and root of the tooth is exposed, this is because the bone started to wither away as a result of periodontal disease and unfortunately, there is no going back from there except with surgeries and bone grafts.
So to summarize, it all comes down to how developed is the condition. If it is caught in the early stages of inflammation, then reversal is entirely possible, but if you wait, hoping that it would resolve all by itself, then you are putting your teeth and gums at risk of irreversible damage of periodontal disease.
So flossing is a key part of your oral hygiene regimen, but can flossing reverse gum disease ? ?!!
It all comes down to how far along the disease is.