Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease caused by the buildup of plaque, a naturally occurring biofilm containing bacteria, on the tissues that surround the teeth. This swelling is often caused by the buildup of plaque. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into a more severe form of gum disease, known as periodontitis, which is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Gingivitis is often painless, so if you exhibit any signs or symptoms be sure to visit your dental professional for a proper assessment and to determine a course of treatment.
What Causes Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is commonly caused by the buildup of plaque. Plaque is an extremely sticky, colorless to pale yellow deposit of bacteria that regularly builds up on your teeth if not brushed regularly. The bacteria produce acids that attack your tooth enamel and can damage the gums. This damage has the possibility of becoming permanent if left untreated. Other causes of gingivitis include hormonal changes, illnesses, smoking, taking certain medications, bad brushing habits, and genetics.
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.
Gingivitis Treatment and Prevention
- Here are some steps and tips for how to help treat and prevent gingivitis:
Brush twice a day with an electric toothbrush to help remove the bacterial plaque from your teeth.
- Be sure to use an anti-gingivitis or anti-plaque toothpaste containing fluoride to strengthen teeth and prevent the damage that bacteria in plaque causes as it builds up on teeth throughout the day.
- After brushing, rinse thoroughly with an anti-bacterial mouthwash to help fight plaque, gingivitis, and bad breath and get those hard-to-reach places that plaque bacteria can hide in.
- Floss at least once a day to remove food particles and plaque between teeth.
- Please note that your gums may continue to bleed for a period of time; however, it is important to keep brushing and flossing. Removing plaque is essential to improving gum health.
- Don’t forget to visit your dental professional regularly for a checkup and to discuss any concerns or questions you may have.
When it comes to gingivitis, a healthier mouth starts with good brushing habits.
Questions About Gingivitis
Q: Who can get gingivitis?
A: 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.
Q: Is gingivitis reversible?
A: 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.