Blake Lively Totally Wins the Red Carpet Smile Award (No Gingivitis Here)

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Blake Lively_Cannes_May 2014

She's already a celebrity face for L'Oréal Paris (as is her hubs Ryan Reynolds), but maybe Blake Lively should have an oral-health contract. Er -- I mean a mouth-wash contract, or toothpaste, or something along those lines. The film festival isn't yet over, but damn -- Blake Lively totally wins the Cannes 2014 Red Carpet Smile Award. Look at those teeth! No gingivitis here.

gingivitis -- *shudder*

Blake-Lively-Chanel-Cannes-Film-Festival

I don't know about you, but I've really never given much thought to gingivitis. Like most people, I figured gingivitis = swollen gums that bleed when you brush your teeth or floss. That's true, but when you really think about what swollen, tender gums means -- *shudder.* In fact, I should warn you: the next bit of this post is a tad disturbing. Here's hoping the pretty photos of Blake Lively and her stellar smile balance the ick factor.

Blake Lively_Cannes Film Festival 2014

Gingivitis is triggered by an excess of bacterial film on the teeth. Plaque. "We all have plaque," says Listerine consultant and Toronto-based prosthodontist Dr. Philip Haddad, who specializes in dental prosthetics. "Plaque can grow in a matter of hours. You wake up in the morning, there's plaque. Leave it there for a few days and it calcifies and gets really hard." Then the body's fight action goes into overdrive.

Essentially, "gingivitis is your body trying to combat bacteria," Haddad says. "If you have an infection in your finger, with puss, redness, swelling and heat, that's your body trying to destroy bacteria. It's the same with your gums. The problem is that in the mouth, the body is kind of stupid -- it starts to destroy the bone around the teeth too." Gingivitis progresses to a more severe affliction called periodontitis, in which the structure of the teeth breaks down.

severe periodontitis

In addition to irreversable bone loss, severe gum recession is a huge issue, exposing the sensitive roots of the teeth. Brushing becomes so incredibly painful, it literally becomes impossible. Tooth loss is likely.

As if acute pain, tooth loss and the impending financial strain of reconstructive dental work isn't enough, Dr. Haddad says advanced periodontitis has a heartbreaking psychosocial impact. "Patients never go out to dinner with friends, they don't like to be in public areas to eat, they can't eat what they want. Often they go to processed foods because they're softer, like mashed potatoes and the most unhealthy easy things." And really, the worst thing about all this trauma is that it's entirely preventable.

the gingivitis fix (as if you didn't know)

how to prevent gingivitis_with a whitening Listerine option

Preventing gingivitis is, of course, as simple as a sound regimen of brushing, flossing and rinsing with antiseptic mouth wash twice per day, plus regular dental visits. Dr. Haddad is particularly focussed on mouth rinse as a weapon against gum disease. "Let's face it, most people don't floss," he says. "But they'll rinse. And studies show an antiseptic mouthwash kills bacteria before it can attach itself to your teeth."

That's not to say we can skip flossing, of course. Floss forcibly removes food particles and bacteria build-up -- pre-calcified plaque if you will -- from areas a toothbrush can't reach.

In terms of toothbrush, I can't recommend enough the amazing Philips Sonicare DiamondClean power toothbrush (I geeked about the stunning DiamondClean Black here). Its 31,000 brushstrokes-per-minute efficiency is extra insurance in preventing gum disease. Reach Total Care Plus Whitening Floss (geek-out here) has become my favourite floss in the world; its supple flexibility is gentle on gums and its textured surface cleans between teeth brilliantly. I also use Listerine Total Care, the UltraClean version which makes my mouth feel powerwashed; Listerine Whitening is an alternative for anyone who likes a little whitening boost in their mouthwash (I actually have it on deck; I'm almost finished my bottle of UltraClean).

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I've mentioned this before, but it's definitely worth a repeat refrain: rinsing twice daily with an antiseptic mouth wash like Listerine to your regimen can improve your mouth health by up to 50 percent. See the study results here. If you're in the early stages of gingivitis, with careful brushing, flossing and rinsing as directed, you should be able to reverse it within two weeks, says Dr. Haddad.

Speaking of two weeks, maybe you'd be interested in trying to win a nice chunk of change? Take the Listerine 2-Week Challenge for a chance to win $14,000. At the same time, you can get well on your way to building a good mouthwash habit (habits take about three weeks to create). All you have to do is register, rinse with Listerine twice per day and hit the contest site a few times to increase your chances of winning. June 15th is the deadline to sign up; click here for all the details.

Seriously re: Blake Lively. Best Cannes 2014 Red Carpet Smile or what? As for gingivitis -- thoughts?

Philips Sonicare DiamondClean power toothbrush, $229 at well.ca. Reach Total Care + Whitening Floss, $4.99 at drugstores and mass retailers. Listerine Total Care, $11.99 at well.ca.