Gingivitis is a form of periodontal disease that affects the gums. It is caused by plaque buildup on the teeth, which can lead to inflammation and irritation of the gum tissue. The main symptoms of gingivitis include redness, swelling, or bleeding gums. Other symptoms may include bad breath, pain when brushing and flossing, or receding gums. Early detection of gingivitis is crucial as it can be reversed with good oral hygiene habits.
Causes of Gingivitis
The primary cause of gingivitis is plaque buildup on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky substance that forms when bacteria in the mouth combine with saliva and food particles. If it’s not removed by brushing and flossing, it hardens into tartar, which can irritate the gums and lead to inflammation. The tartar is challenging to remove, keeps collecting bacteria, irritates your gums, and even builds a protective shield around the harmful bacteria in your mouth. Once tartar develops, your teeth will need to be professionally cleaned by a dentist.
Symptoms of Gingivitis
If your gums are healthy, they should be pink and fit snugly around your teeth. However, if you have gingivitis, there are several signs that will indicate you need to seek treatment. These signs include:
- Swollen, and tender gums
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing
- Gums that appear to be pulled away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Darker, red-colored gums
Further Complications and Risk of Gingivitis
You are more likely to be at risk of gingivitis if you:
- Smoke or use other forms of tobacco
- Have a family history of gum disease
- Have an insufficient diet
- Suffer from high stress or depression
- Are age 65 and over
- Have crooked teeth or other circumstances that make it hard to clean your teeth
- Have certain diseases, like diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, respiratory disease, coronary artery disease, stroke, and rheumatoid arthritis
- Are undergoing cancer treatment
- Are taking specific drugs that reduce saliva flow, like phenytoin for epileptic seizures
If left untreated, gingivitis can worsen and develop into a more severe periodontal disease that can cause tooth loss and other long-term health complications. Necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, also known as trench mouth, is a rare but serious complication of gingivitis that requires immediate medical attention. It causes extreme pain, swelling, and bleeding to occur from the gums. Trench mouth is most common in underdeveloped countries with poor oral hygiene.
Treatment of Gingivitis
The most common form of treatment for gingivitis is professional dental cleaning. During this procedure, your dentist or hygienist will use specialized tools to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth and gums. They may also recommend medications such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs to help reduce inflammation and irritation. Additionally, your dentist may prescribe a mouth rinse to help reduce plaque buildup on the teeth. After the professional cleaning, at-home treatment will involve daily brushing and flossing, as well as regular visits to the dentist for checkups.
Prevention of Gingivitis
There are many practical ways that you can ensure your oral health is in good condition and reduce your risk of developing gingivitis.
- Brush and Floss Your Teeth Daily: The best way to prevent gingivitis is to practice good oral hygiene. This includes brushing twice a day and flossing daily.
- Visit the Dentist for Regular Checkups and Cleanings: It’s important to visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings in order to maintain the health of your teeth and gums. Your dentist will be able to detect any signs or symptoms of gingivitis early on, which can help reduce the risk of more severe complications down the line.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: Eating a balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help promote overall oral health.
- Avoid Tobacco Use: Smoking and using other forms of tobacco put you at an increased risk for developing periodontal disease, including gingivitis. Quitting smoking may help reduce inflammation and improve overall oral health.
- Avoid Sugary Drinks and Snacks: Sugary drinks and snacks are one of the most common causes of plaque buildup. Limiting your intake of sugary foods and beverages is an important preventive measure to take in order to maintain good oral health.
By following these simple tips, you can help protect yourself from developing gingivitis and other forms of gum disease. If you think you may be at risk of developing gingivitis, it’s important to contact your dentist right away for an evaluation and treatment plan. With proper care and treatment, most cases of gingivitis can be reversed with minimal discomfort. Tackling the problem early on is key to preventing more serious complications.
Have Concerns? Contact Salling and Tate Dentistry Today.
At Salling and Tate Dentistry, our experienced team of dentists is dedicated to providing quality care to patients in the Wilmington area. We offer various preventive, general, and restorative dental services to meet your unique needs. If you’re concerned that you may be at risk for gingivitis or other forms of periodontal disease, contact us today to learn more about our services and schedule an appointment with one of our skilled professionals.
For more information about gingivitis and proper oral hygiene habits, call 910-256-9040 today. Our staff will be happy to answer any questions you have and provide the help you need. With a commitment to promoting healthy smiles for life, Salling and Tate Dentistry is your partner in oral health. Don’t wait to get the care you need!