When you hear the word ‘gingivitis‘, it might seem scary, but it is one of the most common gum diseases. It is so common that 3 out of 4 Americans have had gingivitis at some point in their lives – some without ever knowing. If you are currently experiencing symptoms, you might feel uncomfortable about seeking treatment, but with 75% of the population experiencing gingivitis, we want to encourage you to not feel shame.
What Is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums. It is caused by a buildup of plaque (a film that builds on tooth enamel made up of mucus, bacteria, and food debris). When plaque sits on teeth for a long time it hardens and becomes tartar.
Gingivitis is typically caused by plaque buildup, however, other factors put you at risk for gingivitis, such as smoking and tobacco, poor oral hygiene, stress, poor nutrition, medications, chronic diseases, and major hormonal changes like pregnancy, menopause, and puberty.
Gingivitis isn’t necessarily a painful experience, so it can be hard to detect – which is why it is often ignored. Symptoms include red puffy gums, bleeding gums, tooth pain or sensitivity, bad breath that won’t go away, sore gums, and loose teeth.
Prevention And Treatment
A healthy oral care routine is what it takes to prevent gingivitis. Remember, gingivitis is caused by plaque buildup, so your first line of defense is ensuring you are preventing buildup. When we say a healthy oral routine, we are referring to brushing for at least 2 minutes twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and using an oral rinse.
Other preventative actions you can apply are:
- Keeping dentist appointments and cleanings consistent
- Using an anti-gingivitis toothpaste or oral rinse
- Replacing your toothbrush every 3 months
- Checking your gums in the mirror for discoloration and texture changes
- Cutting back on high sugar foods
When gingivitis is ignored and untreated it will weaken enamel and promote the development of periodontitis (a more serious gum disease that is a major cause of tooth loss in adults). If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of gingivitis, your first step should be to book an appointment with our team at Empire Dental to receive a diagnosis and plan of treatment.
Depending on the progression, your dentist may need to remove tartar from your teeth or perform x-rays to determine if the bone structure has been compromised. Treatment will look different for everyone, but you can expect your dentist to advise having a professional cleaning at least twice a year, getting misaligned teeth corrected, replacing orthodontic tools, or seeking treatment for chronic illnesses.
It Starts With You
Preventing gingivitis starts with your at-home oral health routine. Without a healthy routine in place, you will be at risk for returning gingivitis, the onset of periodontitis, infection, an abscessed tooth, or trench mouth.
If you are concerned about your gum health, especially if you haven’t had a cleaning within the last 6 months, contact us today to book your next appointment.