Do you have swollen, bleeding gums? Do you avoid flossing because it’s painful? These are symptoms of gingivitis and the beginnings of gum disease. It’s important to catch and treat gingivitis early while it is still reversible. Read on to find out more!
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the beginning stages of gum disease. It is caused by plaque build-up, which is a natural clear, sticky film which covers your teeth and traps bacteria along your gum-line. The bacteria cause infections in your gums, which then swell and bleed easily. If left untreated, gingivitis leads to periodontal disease and weakened tooth enamel. Because it can be painless, you may not realize you have gingivitis. That’s why it’s important to have regular check ups with your dentist to help catch any problems early.
Symptoms of Gingivitis
- swollen, tender, red gums
- bleeding when you brush or floss
- persistent bad breath
Risk Factors for Developing Gingivitis
- Hormonal changes– any significant changes in hormones can make you more susceptible to gingivitis. This may be puberty, pregnancy, menopause, mensuration, or taking oral contraceptives.
- Stress– Especially prolonged stress can weaken your body’s immune system and make it difficult for your body to fight infections.
- Improper Nutrition– If your body doesn’t get proper nutrition, it is harder for it to fight off infection, and your teeth’s enamel will be weaker.
- Chronic Illness– Several chronic illnesses have been linked with higher rates of gingivitis such as diabetes, cancer and HIV. Any illness which weakens your immune system will also raise your chance of developing gingivitis.
- Smoking or Tobacco Use– smoking or using tobacco products makes you seven times more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers. The chemicals in these products inflames and irritates your gums and weakens your immune system.
- Genetic Predisposition– Some people are genetically predisposed to develop gum disease. If you know gum disease runs in your family, be proactive and stay consistent with your dental check-ups and hygiene appointments.
The best way to care for your gums and your teeth is to brush and floss daily. With a soft-bristled brush and a pea-sized portion of fluoride toothpaste, brush your teeth and gums in slow, gentle circles. Make sure you get all the tooth surfaces as well as the gum-line. Floss between all your teeth and around the back of your molars. Make sure you floss underneath the gums, making a small “C” with the floss around each tooth. Additionally, using a mouthwash that kills bacteria and swishing well can help kill any remaining bacteria.
If caught early, gingivitis is reversible. With a thorough cleaning from your dentist with special tools and improved oral hygiene, you can eliminate gingivitis. When left unchecked, gingivitis will turn into full-blown periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is an aggressive infection of your gums that causes gum recession and can cause tooth loss.
Thinking you haven’t been in to your dentist lately? Give us a call today and set up cleaning appointment!