Gingivitis is a common gum disease that develops when plaque, a bacterially-filled sticky coating, accumulates and inflames the gum tissue around the teeth. Toxins produced by plaque irritate the gums, resulting in red, swollen, and bleeding gums.
If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis, which can cause additional problems like tooth loss.
Poor dental hygiene is the most common cause of gingivitis. You can prevent and treat gingivitis with good oral hygiene practices and routine dental exams.
What are the symptoms of gingivitis?
You might have gingivitis without realizing it because the early phases don’t always present with noticeable symptoms; This is why it’s critical to visit your dentist and hygienist for cleanings and checkups frequently and know what to look for. Your odds of reversing gingivitis’ effects and stopping it from developing into periodontitis are better the earlier you seek medical attention.
The symptoms of gingivitis can vary from mild to severe. The most common symptoms include:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Bleeding gums, especially when brushing or flossing
- Bad breath or a persistent bad taste in the mouth
- Receding gums or pockets forming between the teeth and gums
- Loose teeth or teeth that appear to be shifting
What are the causes of gingivitis?
The primary cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene, which allows bacteria to accumulate on the teeth and gums, leading to plaque formation. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth and can harden into tartar if not removed by regular brushing and flossing. When plaque and tartar accumulate on the teeth for an extended period, the bacteria can irritate and inflame the gums, leading to gingivitis.
Other factors contributing to gingivitis include hormonal changes (like during pregnancy or menopause), certain medications, smoking, genetic predisposition, and systemic diseases such as diabetes.
How is gingivitis diagnosed?
The first step in diagnosing gingivitis is a comprehensive dental exam. During the dental exam, your dentist or dental hygienist will visually inspect the gums for signs of inflammation and bleeding. They may use a special instrument to measure the depth of the gum pockets around each tooth. The pocket depth in a healthy tongue typically ranges between one and three millimeters. X-rays may also be taken to evaluate the bone structure and check for signs of periodontal disease in regions where your dentist observes deeper pockets.
How is gingivitis treated?
Early treatment typically relieves gingivitis symptoms and stops the condition from leading to tooth loss. The treatment of gingivitis usually involves a combination of professional cleaning, improved oral hygiene habits, and, in some cases, medication.
Professional cleaning, also known as scaling and root planning, involves the removal of plaque and tartar from the teeth and roots, followed by smoothing the tooth roots to prevent bacteria from accumulating again. This procedure may be performed under local anesthesia and may require multiple appointments.
After a thorough professional cleaning, gingivitis typically goes away if you maintain good dental hygiene habits at home; This includes brushing at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, flossing at least once a day, and using an antimicrobial mouthwash. Patients may also be advised to use interdental cleaning devices, such as interdental brushes or water flossers, to clean between the teeth and under the gumline.
In addition to these practices, it is important to maintain regular dental checkups and cleanings to monitor your oral health and prevent further complications. Within a few days or weeks, the pink, healthy gum tissue should reappear if you maintain good oral hygiene at home.
In some cases, medication may be prescribed to treat gingivitis. This may include antimicrobial mouth rinses or gels, which can help reduce the number of bacteria and inflammation in the mouth, or antibiotics, which may be prescribed for more severe cases of gum disease.
How is gingivitis prevented?
Preventing gingivitis involves maintaining good oral hygiene habits and making healthy lifestyle choices. Some tips for preventing gingivitis include:
- Brush and floss your teeth every day.
- Quit smoking or using tobacco products.
- Eat a balanced diet rich in nutrients and minerals and low in sugar.
- Manage stress levels and get enough sleep.
- Manage conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, which can increase the risk of gum disease.
Schedule your appointment at Novomed today!
Gingivitis is a treatable form of gum disease. With proper diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, patients can manage this condition effectively and maintain good oral health.
If you suspect you may have gingivitis, contact one of our knowledgeable dentists by calling toll-free 8006686 or clicking the chat icon at the bottom of the screen to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.