Healthy gums are an essential part of a healthy smile and a sign of good health. Your gums help protect the roots of your teeth and the bones in your jaw. If you notice that your gums are swollen, bleed easily or are inflamed, it may be a sign that you have gingivitis. Gingivitis is a form of gum disease that occurs when plaque builds up on teeth and causes inflammation around the gums. Gingivitis can even lead to more serious issues like tooth loss.
Statistics show that three out of four Americans will experience gingivitis at some point in their lives. Still, the good news is that gingivitis is treatable and preventable by incorporating good oral hygiene practices. Keep reading to learn more about gingivitis and how to treat and prevent it.
Causes of Gingivitis
Smoking, old age, dry mouth, poor nutritional habits, genetics and medical conditions can cause gingivitis, but the most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral care habits. If you do not take time to brush and floss your teeth each day, you allow plaque to keep building up on your teeth. Plaque is a thin film of bacteria that constantly forms on the surface of your teeth. The longer plaque is allowed to build up, the more irritated and inflamed the gingiva (the part of your gum around the base of your teeth) will become. Eventually, the plaque build-up and gum inflammation can result in gum infection or gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease, causing your teeth to loosen or lead to tooth loss.
Symptoms of Gingivitis
Because gingivitis can sometimes be painless, many people do not even know that they have it! That is why you need to be aware of gingivitis symptoms and see your dentist regularly (every six months) for check-ups.
Here are some symptoms of gingivitis to be aware of:
- Swollen gums
- Dark red gums
- Gums that bleed easily
- Bad breath
- Receding gums
- Tender gums
If you notice any of the above symptoms, it is time to schedule a dental appointment. The sooner you seek care, the better chance you have at reversing any damage.
Treatment of Gingivitis
Prompt treatment of gingivitis usually reverses any signs of damage and prevents its progression to periodontal disease. The best way to treat gingivitis is to catch it early. If you think you are experiencing gingivitis symptoms, it is time to make an appointment with your dental provider. A dental hygienist will use special tools to remove plaque or any tartar (hardened plaque) from your teeth.
Other treatments of gingivitis include:
- Professional, deep cleaning of your teeth
- Antibiotic medications
A combination of regular dental check-ups and practicing good oral care habits at home usually clears up gingivitis within a few days or weeks.
Prevention of Gingivitis
Eliminating as much plaque as possible from your teeth and gums can help immensely in the prevention of gingivitis. Check out these tips from the American Dental Association that can help stop gingivitis before it starts:
- Brush your teeth twice a day
- Clean between your teeth with floss or another interdental cleaner once every day
- See your dentist for an examination and professional cleaning regularly
- Show your dentist or dental hygienist how you brush and clean between your teeth and ask if you can make any improvements
- Stop smoking or chewing tobacco – tobacco use increases the risk of gum disease
You should also be aware that there are health conditions, medications and hormonal changes sometimes associated with gingivitis.
- Aids and cancer: Aids and cancer both reduce the body’s ability to fight infection
- Diabetes: Some researchers have noted that people who have diabetes also have gum disease
- Anti-seizure and blood pressure medications: These types of medications can affect the gums
- Hormonal changes: The gums are very sensitive to hormonal changes, like the ones that take place in pregnancy
Visit the Dentist Regularly to Help Prevent Gingivitis | The Landing Dental Spa
At The Landing Dental Spa, we understand that gingivitis can progress from swelling, inflammation and minor bleeding to periodontal disease, so that is why we recommend going to dental check-ups regularly. If you are experiencing swollen gums, dark red gums, gums that bleed easily, bad breath, receding gums or tender gums, we encourage you to make a dental appointment as soon as possible.
If you would like to make an appointment with us, please give us a call at 304-594-2200 or use our online contact form.