Gingivitis is the inflammation of your gingiva, the part of the gums that surround the base of your teeth. Gingivitis is easily preventable and treated with a good oral hygiene routine and regular dental visits.
However, if left untreated, it can lead to a much more serious gum disease called periodontitis. Peridontitis can result in tooth loss because the connective tissue and bone that hold the tooth in place disintegrate.
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the most common form of gum disease. According to a study published in the Journal of Dental Research, almost half of adults aged 30 or older have some form of gum disease.
When you eat and drink, the bacteria in your mouth react with the starches and sugars in your food and beverages and form a clear sticky film called plaque. Plaque attaches to your teeth surfaces, between the teeth and below the gum line.
If not removed when brushing and flossing, plaque can harden under the gum line, transforming into a calculus called tartar. Tartar causes your gums to become irritated, tender, and inflamed.
Tartar can’t be removed with regular brushing, which is why regular professional hygiene cleanings are essential.
Symptoms of Gingivitis:
- Bad breath
- Bleeding gums when brushing and flossing
- Receding gums
- Red and swollen gums
- Teeth sensitivity to hot and cold food and beverages
Common Causes of Gingivitis
- Poor oral hygiene is the leading cause of gingivitis. Neglecting to brush your teeth and not flossing or using a mouthwash allows plaque to build up and form into tartar.
- Dry mouth occurs when your salivary glands fail to produce enough saliva. A lack of saliva means plaque remains on your teeth because it isn’t being washed away.
- Autoimmune diseases, cancer, HIV, and diabetes are linked to a higher risk of gingivitis because of a weakened immune system.
- Smokers are at a higher risk of gingivitis than non-smokers because it weakens your body’s ability to fight gum infection. Smoking can also mask the signs of gum disease.
- You are more susceptible to developing gingivitis due to dry mouth, less saliva, and medication use as you get older.
- A poor diet, especially one lacking in vitamin C, raises your risk for gum disease. Vitamin C deficiency causes gum enlargement and bleeding gums.
- Crooked teeth or dental restorations can make cleaning your teeth more challenging, causing plaque buildup.
- Some medications and calcium channel blockers can cause drug-induced gum overgrowth, swelling, and bleeding. Some medications also cause dry mouth.
- If your parents had gum disease, you are likely to develop gingivitis too.
Treatment for Gingivitis
Prompt, professional treatment can reverse gingivitis and prevent it from developing into periodontitis. Your dental hygienist removes plaque and tartar from the gums, reducing the inflammation so your gums can return to their normal healthy appearance.
Your dentist may recommend a dental prescribed antibacterial mouthwash to help control the bacteria in your mouth that cause gum disease. They will also work with you to develop a customized at-home oral hygiene regimen to keep your mouth healthy between dental checkups.
Although it is recommended that you visit your dentist twice a year, if you have gum disease, your dentist may suggest more frequent hygiene cleanings.
Schedule Your Checkup With Steger Smiles
The American Dental Association recommends regular dental visits to keep your smile healthy. At Steger Smiles, we believe that preventative care lowers your risk of developing gum disease, tooth decay, and other oral health issues.