Have you ever noticed that your gums appear puffy or swollen? Do your gums bleed when you brush or floss?
Bad breath, receding, tender, and dark red gums are all common signs of gingivitis. If you ignore these problems instead of seeking out treatment, you could face serious consequences in the future.
You can prevent gum disease with great oral care habits.
What causes gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease, also called periodontal disease. This condition leads to swelling and redness in the gums around the base of your teeth. It can lead to more serious issues, so it’s important to take gingivitis seriously.
Poor oral hygiene is the most significant contributing factor to gingivitis. When you let your oral health habits slide, you’re at risk of developing gingivitis and a wide range of other dental issues. When you avoid brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleaning, you allow plaque to form on your teeth and turn into hardened tartar. This lets bacteria accumulate, which can irritate and inflame the gums.
Other factors can cause gingivitis as well. Smoking, poor nutrition, and some prescription drugs can contribute to the condition. Genetic factors may be involved, and gingivitis is also more common in old age.
The Progression of Gingivitis
Healthy gums are strong and firm. They don’t bleed from brushing or flossing. They fit tightly around your teeth, leaving no room for pockets of bacteria to form and lead to infection.
As gingivitis begins to set in, patients can experience inflammation and swelling. They will likely notice bleeding gums while they are flossing or brushing. However, this is just the earliest stage of gum disease. Gingivitis can eventually progress into periodontitis. At this stage, your gums start to lift away from your teeth. This opens pockets that allow bacteria to infiltrate the gums and access the roots of your teeth.
Once these pockets allow bacteria to infiltrate deep within the gums and reach the tooth roots and surrounding bone, patients are categorized as having advanced periodontitis. The bacteria can begin to affect the roots and bone, loosening teeth and facilitating decay. At this stage, tooth extraction is often required.
Advanced periodontitis is a contributing factor to certain types of cancer. Besides mouth cancer, periodontitis has also been linked to lung and colorectal cancers. The oral bacteria that thrive during advanced periodontitis are believed to spread throughout the body through the bloodstream and weaken the immune system. The long-term health consequences of gingivitis are incredibly serious.
How to Deal with it Proactively
Treatment for gingivitis and periodontitis becomes more invasive as the condition progresses. Dealing with gingivitis in the early stages is much easier than treating advanced periodontitis, and early treatment leaves a patient with a much lower risk of complications.
Your hygienist may notice signs of gingivitis during a regular checkup, or you might schedule a special visit when you notice bleeding or swelling gums. The hygienist will measure the pocket depth between your gums and teeth to judge the extent of the issue and may use dental X-rays to evaluate any potential bone loss for deep pockets.
In the early stages, a simple professional dental cleaning can be enough to deal with gingivitis. Built-up plaque and tartar are the most significant causes, and dental cleaning removes these with specialized tools. These deposits are too hard to remove with just a regular toothbrush and need to be addressed by a dental professional.
With the plaque and tartar removed, the inflammation and swelling can recede. In some cases, you may require scaling and root planing. This procedure involves cleaning below the gumline to remove more plaque and tartar, along with smoothing root surfaces to make them less hospitable to bacteria in the future.
As periodontitis progresses, patients may require surgical intervention rather than a simple dental cleaning. Flap surgery requires the dentist to cut the gums to access deeper deposits. As the gumline recedes, a soft tissue graft may be in order. When the bone is affected, patients may also need bone grafts to prevent tooth loss.
Preventing Gum Disease
With gingivitis, the best course of treatment is prevention. Simply brushing twice a day and flossing once a day is enough to prevent gingivitis in most people. Keeping up with regular dental cleanings and checkups is also important. Your diet also plays a role, so thinking carefully about what you eat can reduce your risk of gingivitis.
Gingivitis Treatment and Prevention in Ada, OK
If you’re dealing with the symptoms of gingivitis or want to proactively handle your oral health with regular checkups and cleaning, then Ada Smile Place is the place for you. Our Ada dental office provides general dentistry along with cosmetic and restorative treatments. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.