Gingivitis is a form of gum disease that happens when plaque, a naturally-occurring sticky film containing bacteria, builds up on teeth and causes the inflammation of the surrounding gum tissue. Plaque produces toxins that irritate the gums. This can cause the gums to become inflamed, making them red or puffy, or causing them to bleed. This harmful plaque bacteria can even lead to issues beyond gingivitis like weakened tooth enamel. Even with regular brushing, it’s important to make sure you’re taking care of your gum line, because a healthy mouth starts there.
What Causes Gingivitis?
Gum disease can progress from the minor bleeding and swelling of gingivitis to deep infections that attack the ligaments and bones that hold your teeth in place. Gingivitis is caused by the buildup of plaque–– a naturally-occurring sticky film containing bacteria – on the teeth and gums. The bacteria found in plaque produce toxins that can irritate the gums and cause them to become red, inflamed, puffy, and may even lead to bleeding. (Gingivitis is actually the number one cause of bleeding gums in adults).
Other factors might increase your risk of gingivitis. If some of the factors below apply to you, pay extra attention to your teeth and gum line and talk to your dentist and hygienist about what you can do to keep your mouth healthy.
- Smoking/tobacco useis one of the greatest risk factors associated with gum disease and can lower the chances for successful treatment. Research shows that smokers are seven times more likely to suffer from gum disease than people who don’t smoke.
- Poor oral hygiene,such as not brushing or flossing regularly is one of several easily avoided causes of gingivitis.
- Not fully removing plaque.You may be missing the plaque found around the gum line, even if the plaque on your teeth has been removed. Be sure to floss regularly and look for a toothpaste that can reach plaque around the gum line.
- Stressis another one of many causes of gingivitis. Constant stress can weaken your immune system and negatively impact your ability to fight infection, including gum disease.
- Hormonal changesincluding puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and monthly menstruation cause increased sensitivity and inflammation in your gums. Take extra care of your teeth and gums during these physiological changes to prevent gum disease.
- Poor nutritiondeprives the body of important nutrients and makes it more difficult for the body to fight infection, including gum disease.
- Medicationsfor many conditions can affect oral health. Tell your dentist or hygienist if you take any prescription or over-the-counter medications.
- Chronic diseases,such as diabetes, cancer, and HIV, impair the body’s ability to fight infection, including gum disease. Tell your dentist and hygienist if you have any medical conditions.
Since eliminating plaque is critical in preventing gingivitis, remember to use an anti-gingivitis toothpaste and mouthwash that is specially formulated for your gums. and focus on a great oral health routine that includes brushing for 2 minutes twice a day, and flossing at least once a day.
Gingivitis Symptoms and Signs
Some symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen, and bleeding gums in addition to bad breath. When gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, the gums begin to pull away from the teeth, creating small pockets. Bacteria can then become trapped in these pockets, weakening the bone supporting the teeth. If you ignore the signs of gingivitis because you don’t recognize them or because you are worried about seeking care from a dental professional, your condition will probably get worse. Make sure to see your dental professional immediately if you notice any of these signs and symptoms to receive a proper assessment. If these symptoms persist, it’s important to talk with your dental professional to determine the best treatment.
What is the difference between gingivitis and advanced periodontal diseases?
Gingivitis and periodontitis are “stages” of periodontal, or gum, disease. Gingivitis is the earliest form of gum disease marked by inflamed, swollen, bleeding and red gums. Gingivitis is reversible, but if not treated can progress to the more advanced stage called periodontitis where gums pull away from teeth allowing bacteria to cause infection that can damage teeth and their supporting bones. Periodontitis is actually the leading cause of tooth loss.
Periodontitis can cause permanent damage. Follow a strict oral hygiene routine to catch gingivitis early and avoid the progression to more serious gum disease.
Who can get gingivitis?
Gingivitis is quite prevalent. But while almost 80% of adults will experience some symptoms of gingivitis, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s inevitable. It’s important to note that occasionally there might be no noticeable pain or apparent signs, leaving people unaware that they have it. That’s another good reason to schedule regular checkups with your dental professional every six months so he or she can identify it and suggest treatment options.
The largest complication of untreated gingivitis is periodontitis. Complications stemming from periodontist include:
- Increased risk for coronary artery disease
- Increased risk for diabetes
- Increased risk for respiratory diseases like asthma
- Increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis
As gum disease progresses, your teeth will become loose. Left unchecked, your teeth may become so loose that the only option is to remove them. That is, if they don’t fall out on their own. The link between periodontitis and increased risk of these serious chronic conditions is not fully understood.
How are gingivitis and periodontitis diagnosed?
Diagnosis for gingivitis and periodontitis is based upon thorough examination of the patient’s mouth, including cheeks, gums, and tongue. Probes may be used to examine gingival pockets. X-rays may also be taken to evaluate possible damage to underlying bone structures.
Is gingivitis reversible?
After proper diagnosis of gingivitis, it is important to start treating it immediately. Gingivitis is reversible, so visit your dental professional at the first signs of symptoms for a proper evaluation to decide the best course of treatment.
Gingivitis Treatment and Prevention
If you have gingivitis or think you might have gingivitis, you might have some anxiety around what to do about it. But don’t worry; with the help of your dentist, hygienist, gingivitis is treatable and preventable.
Treating and preventing gingivitis is all about eliminating as much plaque from your teeth and gums as possible. The best way to treat it is to catch it early. Make a dental appointment as soon as possible. Your hygienist will remove plaque or tartar (plaque that has hardened) from your teeth with special tools. Tartar can only be removed by a dental professional, so using oral care items rated for plaque removal helps reduce the amount of tartar needing removal during your dental visit. First, the dentist uses professional tooth cleaning to remove all dental plaque – even those in the interdental spaces. It removes the deposits in the periodontal pockets, drains the pathogens and pus and then thoroughly disinfects the cavities. Then the tooth surfaces are polished. The dentist then seals the teeth with fluoride varnish, so the pathogens can no longer settle on it.
The patient can also treat an acute gingivitis in the first few days. This often requires improved oral hygiene and some proven old home remedies. The patient may use anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial natural agents at home. These include, for example, teas from chamomile flowers or a glass of water with apple cider vinegar for mouthwash. However, if there is still not any improvement after a few days, you should seek the help of a dentist as soon as possible.
Steps to Help Prevent and Treat Gingivitis:
- Use an anti-gingivitis toothpaste:Your toothpaste should be able to remove plaque from both your teeth and around your gum line. Use a toothpaste, which neutralizes plaque bacteria around the gum line and is clinically proven to give you healthier gums.
- Use an anti-gingivitis mouthwash.use a Mouthwash which is a alcohol-free mouthwash that neutralizes harmful plaque bacteria buildup and reduces bleeding gums.
- Brush your teeth and gums for at least 2 minutes,at least 2 times a day.
- Floss at least once a day:use a Floss which slides easily between teeth and below the gum line to remove gingivitis-causing plaque.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 months:Worn-out bristles remove less plaque.
- If you have sore gums after flossing or brushing, or notice bleeding, don’t stop brushing or flossing.Use a toothbrush with soft bristles so you don’t hurt your gums. Think about upgrading to an electric toothbrush which removes 100% more plaque than a regular toothbrush. If you notice bleeding regularly, see your dentist.
Check your gums in the mirror often for changes in color or texture. If