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.
Gingivitis occurs in 3 out of 4 of Americans during their lifetime, but with proper dental care early on, it’s easily reversed. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into a more severe form of gum disease, known as Periodontal Disease, which is a major cause of tooth loss in adults.
What Causes Gingivitis?
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 one of our Beaufort dentists about what you can do to keep your mouth healthy.
- Smoking/tobacco use is 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 like Crest Gum Detoxify or Crest Gum and Enamel Repair that can reach plaque around the gum line.
- Stress is 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 changes including 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 nutrition deprives the body of important nutrients and makes it more difficult for the body to fight infection, including gum disease.
- Medications for 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 Signs and Symptoms
Because gingivitis doesn’t often cause pain, many people don’t know they have it. In fact, as many as 75% of all Americans will experience some degree of gingivitis during their lifetime. That’s why it’s important not only to know what to look for, but also to see your dentist and hygienist regularly for cleanings and checkups.
Here are some gingivitis symptoms to watch out for:
- Red, puffy gums.
- Bleeding gums, especially when you brush or floss.
- Sore gums that won’t go away.
- Tooth pain or sensitivity. When gums pull away from teeth, teeth are more exposed and sensitive to hot and cold foods or beverages.
- Bad breath that won’t go away. Plaque contains millions of bacteria that produce foul-smelling waste products.
- Loose teeth or changes in the way your teeth fit when you bite down. This could be an advanced gum disease, called periodontitis.
Gingivitis Treatment and Prevention
If you have gingivitis or think you might have gingivitis, we understand that you might have some anxiety around what to do about it. But don’t worry; with the help from one of our Lady’s Island dentist, gingivitis is treatable and preventable. We welcome new patients and look forward to helping you achieve the optimal oral health. To schedule an appointment, contact us at (843) 986-0177 or feel free to use our online appointment form.