• Lydia Chu

How I got rid of gum disease (Gingivitis)

Updated: Mar 20, 2019

I lived with gum disease almost half of my life until I got proactive and got rid of it without expensive treatment or surgery.

When I was growing up, I had a really bad case of gum disease or gingivitis. I don't recall how diligent I was at brushing my teeth as a child nor do I remember my parents ever teaching me about good dental hygiene. I never had problems with cavities but gum disease was always a problem for me. My gums were always red and swollen and bled very easily. I also suffered from bad breath which led me to shy away from people, and it sure didn't help me with my social life.

My parents grew up in a generation where oral hygiene was not emphasized. My parents were teenagers when the Korean war broke out and had to live through it. It was a hard time for the whole country after the war and for most people, survival was the name of the game not oral hygiene.

After we moved to this country in 1976, my parent's worked round the clock trying to raise five young children. So, with very little time in their hands and almost no education on oral health, my parents had no idea how to help me.

I don't have a clear memory of how well I brushed my teeth when I was younger but I'm sure, like most young kids, I didn't do a good job of brushing my teeth. I didn't even know what flossing was until I went to a dentist for the first time. I didn't just have poor oral hygiene. My teeth was also pretty crooked so when I became a teenager, I asked my parents for braces. By this time, I was already dealing with low self-image and my crooked teeth didn't help. So being conscious about my looks as most teenagers do at that age, I desperately wanted to look better, and that's when my parents took me to see a dentist for the first time.

This is when I found out I had gingivitis. I had so much plaque and calculus build up around my teeth that it took several visits to remove all the plaque before I could get braces. So, for two years while I wore braces, I had my teeth cleaned on a regular basis so my oral health improved, but after I got done wearing braces, I went back to not taking care of my teeth, and the problem returned.

Even though I was making trips to the dentist once or twice a year over the years, I continued to have problems with my teeth. I didn't floss and did a fair job of brushing my teeth, probably not well as I should have. Then about 20 years ago, I went in for my once a year cleaning and was told that I had a bad case of gingivitis. My gums were red and swollen again, and it was bleeding regularly. It wasn't as bad as it had been when I was younger but it was definitely showing signs of the disease. Luckily, it hadn't led to periodontal disease where it was affecting the bones. It would have definitely been a bigger problem if it had.

Finally, my dentist suggested the laser treatment. When he told me how much it was going to cost, I almost fell out of my chair. It was going to cost me around $4000! At that time, I was going through a financial hardship and didn't even have insurance. Besides, who has $4000 laying around to pay for dental care? That wasn't me so I had no choice. I went home and without knowing what the outcome would be, I diligently started brushing and flossing my teeth. I got on the regimen of brushing and flossing my teeth 4 times a day (once after waking up and after each meal). After doing that for about a year, I went in for a visit to my dentist (by this time, I had switched to a new dentist). First time I went in, I was nervous about my gum bleeding again during the cleaning and being told that I had a gum disease. Instead, I was told by my dentist that I had great teeth and almost no bleeding. There was no sign of the disease at all!

I was ecstatic beyond words. I had suffered from gum disease most of my life, and I had gotten rid of it without any expensive treatment or surgery and it only took less than a year. Why didn't I do this sooner? It just took little diligence and time on my part along with consistent effort and it had paid off. It had made an enormous difference not just on my oral health but on my self-esteem as well. I'm no longer self-conscious about my breath or unexpected bleeding of my gums in public, but most of all, I'm not afraid to smile.

I realize now that compare to other people, I'm more susceptible to getting the disease because of the way my teeth are structured. I know a lot of people who brush their teeth once or twice a day and not even floss but don't necessarily develop gum disease. For me, that's not the case, I have more space between my teeth down by the gum than most people so when I eat, I get a lot of food particles stuck between the teeth. That's why when I don't floss regularly, I get a buildup of plaque and calculus that leads to gingivitis.

My favorite electric toothbrush, TAO Clean

For more than 10 years now, I've had a good routine of brushing my teeth at least three times a day followed by good flossing. I used to floss my teeth with those traditional stringed floss which I found it to be kind of a hassle and time consuming. About five years ago, I discovered a little floss brushes. These have changed my life. They're super easy to use and they come in different sizes depending on the tightness of the teeth. I absolutely love these, and they have been working great for me. I hardly ever use the regular stringed flosses anymore. I just use the little brushes to get all the food particles that are trapped between my teeth and it has been doing wonders for my teeth. It's super easy and fast.

I just recently went to see my dentist and got a clean bill of health. It definitely pays off to take care of myself. Good oral health doesn't just give us a great smile but also affects our overall health. With a combination of healthy diet and proper dental care, I know I'll have a healthy, long lasting teeth for many years to come.

The experience I had with gingivitis during my early years has taught me a valuable lesson. What I had experienced was totally preventable and it was in my hands to prevent it. With little extra time and effort on a daily basis, I had reversed the disease without any medical help. Even though I still go see my dentist three times a year for routine cleanings, I no longer suffer from any dental problems and has maintained a good healthy teeth for over 10 years now.

Just like everything else in life, our bodies need good proper care to function properly and to last. What would the quality of our life be if we're too sick to eat the things we enjoy eating or spending our precious time visiting hospitals. With one body, one set of teeth, and one life, we owe ourselves to be kind to our bodies and do everything we can to take care of it.



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