Gingivitis is an extremely common form of gum disease that affects a large portion of the adult population, and most people don’t even know they have it. While symptoms like tender gums and bleeding may not seem like a big deal, gingivitis can eventually develop into periodontitis and result in tooth loss.
Gingivitis results from plaque turning into tartar over time. Tartar finds its way below the gumline, agitating your gums and causing the symptoms of gingivitis. To treat the disease, you will need to get a professional dental cleaning from your dentist and follow their cleaning instructions to ensure that it never returns.
In this article we’ll look at:
- What is gingivitis?
- Symptoms of gingivitis
- Causes of gingivitis
- Treating gingivitis
Just because many adults experience gingivitis doesn’t mean that you have to. If you think you may have it, contact your dentist and schedule an appointment today.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a form of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. Literally meaning “inflammation of the gums,” gingivitis is known for causing them to become red, swollen, and tender. It gets its name from the gingiva, which is the top part of your gums at the base of your teeth.
Fortunately, gingivitis can be easily prevented. It’s usually the result of poor oral hygiene habits, so maintaining a dentist-approved oral hygiene regimen is a must. Make sure that you’re brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each, flossing, and getting your cleanings every six months. Not only can this help prevent gingivitis, but it can actually reverse the disease.
Gingivitis is one of the milder forms of gum disease, but should be treated immediately. While mild, it can eventually develop into more severe forms of gum disease such as periodontitis. This leaves you open to much worse symptoms such as tooth loss. Talk to your dentist if you suspect you have gingivitis. They’ll help you create a plan to get your oral health back on track!
Symptoms of Gingivitis
You may not think much of it, but small changes in your mouth can point to much bigger problems. Have you noticed your teeth and gums looking or feeling different? Have they become darker and more tender? Do hot or cold food and beverages hurt your teeth when they didn’t use to? If so, then you may be experiencing symptoms of gingivitis.
These symptoms include:
- Gums that are dark red rather than pink
- Swollen gums
- Gums that are tender
- Bleeding when you brush or floss
- Receding gumline
- Bad breath
Some of these symptoms may not seem like a big deal at first. However, they can signal something much more serious. You’ll want to get your symptoms checked out by your dentist immediately. They will be able to diagnose you with gingivitis as well as prevent it from developing in periodontitis.
Causes of Gingivitis
As we mentioned earlier, most cases of gingivitis can be prevented through the simple routine of brushing twice a day, flossing at least once per day, and regular dental checkups. This is because basic dental hygiene removes plaque, which is the number one cause of gingivitis.
Plaque is formed when sugars and starches from food combine with the bacteria in your mouth. It’s sticky, invisible, and quickly reforms after brushing. This is why brushing and flossing twice a day is so important. It helps ensure that plaque is consistently removed to prevent it from eventually developing into gingivitis.
When left insufficiently or completely untreated, plaque will inevitably turn into tartar. This is plaque that has made its way below the gumline and has hardened into calculus. Tartar collects bacteria and makes it harder to remove plaque by acting as a shield. This results in irritation at the gumline and requires dental cleaning to be removed.
Over time, the combination of tartar and plaque begin to agitate the gingiva, or top part of your gums surrounding your teeth. This agitation is the symptoms of gingivitis.
Other Causes of Gingivitis
Poor dental hygiene isn’t the only possible cause of gingivitis. In fact, it’s possible that you may have multiple causes working against you.
Other causes of gingivitis include:
- Tobacco use
- Hormonal changes
- Inadequate nutrition
- Certain medications
- Certain chronic diseases
Talk to your dentist if you have one or more of these risk factors. They will be able to determine if any of them are contributing to your gingivitis.
The effects of gingivitis can be reversed if treated immediately as well as prevent it from developing into periodontitis. Even if you’ve had gingivitis for longer than you prefer, your dentist is well-equipped to treat the disease.
Gingivitis treatment may include:
- A professional dental cleaning
- Dental restoration
- Continued oral care
The most important form of treatment will be a professional dental cleaning. This process involves removing all bacteria, plaque, and tartar from your teeth as well as beneath the gumline.
They will then perform root planing, which removes the inflammation byproducts, smooths the surface of the root, prevents the buildup of new bacteria and tartar, and aids the healing process. At My Family Dentistry, we use Laser Periodontal Therapy to provide a minimally-invasive solution for your gingivitis.
Dental restoration may be required if anything else is irritating your gums or preventing the removal of plaque. This can include crowns, bridges, or misaligned teeth. Continued oral care is continuing good oral hygiene habits. The best way to prevent gingivitis from starting or recurring is a regular routine of brushing for two minutes twice per day, flossing at least once a day, and regular dentist visits.
Gingivitis can lead to serious oral discomfort due to gum bleeding, tenderness, and sensitivity. Fortunately, gingivitis and its effects can be prevented through basic oral hygiene. If you develop the disease, you can rest assured that your dentist has a way to get rid of it and ensure that it never comes back.