You may have heard about gingivitis. While it sounds like something bad, you might not be quite sure what it is, especially if you are taking good care of your teeth.
Gingivitis is definitely something to avoid, and it’s one of the many reasons we encourage you to keep brushing AND flossing. Let’s take a look at why this is trouble.
Simply put, gingivitis is inflammation of the gums. This is most commonly caused by bacteria and plaque, which build up if you do not maintain good oral hygiene habits. Plaque is an invisible film of bacteria that forms on your teeth. While brushing removes it, plaque reforms quickly, which is why we need to brush at least twice a day. If plaque hardens, it forms tartar, which is what your hygienist removes with scaling tools during your regular checkups.
Occasionally, gingivitis can be caused by a virus. Factors such as serious illnesses (diabetes, cancer) or smoking can contribute to this problem. Some medications can make you prone to gingivitis as can the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. Consider gingivitis a warning sign. If left untreated, it can lead to periodontitis, a very serious gum disease that can lead to tooth loss. Periodontitis is also associated with overall health. While researchers haven’t established the connection, periodontitis seems to be associated with other health problems, such as heart attacks, strokes, and lung disease.
Symptoms of Gingivitis
The symptoms of gingivitis are bright red and soft, puffy gums that often bleed when you brush your teeth. Other symptoms include bad breath and receding gums. You may feel pain or swelling, but in mild cases, people do not report any symptoms and do not realize they have it. Even if mild, this problem should be taken seriously.
If you feel any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see your dentist so he or she can confirm that is gingivitis and not another problem. Your dentist will ask about your brushing and flossing habits, but may also ask about the medications you take and your medical conditions. Be sure to note when the symptoms began.
The good news is that gingivitis usually resolves itself with good oral hygiene practices, including more frequent brushing and the use of antiseptic mouthwash and dental floss. Consider switching to an electric toothbrush. Your dentist may also recommend an extra visit with the hygienist to remove tartar and plaque or fixing any crowns or fillings that are making it difficult to maintain clean teeth.
Questions about gingivitis or other dental problems? Contact us or talk to your dentist during your next visit with Dental Care Center.