Brushing your teeth is an extremely important step in your oral health. But the primary goal of brushing is not just so that you have a bright white smile. Sure, flashing those pearly whites can boost your self-esteem and make you feel healthy, but ultimately, good oral hygiene doesn’t begin with your teeth. It begins with your gums.
Did you know that you could be suffering from gum disease without even knowing it? Early-stage gum disease, known as gingivitis, does not often cause any pain. Therefore, it is vital to keep a thorough oral hygiene routine and regular visits to your dentist for cleanings, even if something doesn’t seem wrong.
Reversing gingivitis is possible if you catch it in time, but you must first know what to look for and how to respond when it appears.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a form of gum disease that inflames and erodes gum tissues. It occurs when bacteria-ridden plaque and tartar form on the teeth and produce toxins. These toxins cause inflammation and bleeding gums in some cases, especially when irritated by brushing.
Plaque naturally grows, but you must remove it by brushing and flossing daily. That way, it does not cause a further issue. Your gum line can erode when you leave plaque too long on your teeth.
This decay leads to a more severe problem called periodontitis. Though gingivitis and periodontitis begin the same way, periodontitis is not reversible. It is the most significant reason for tooth decay and loss in adults.
What are the signs of gingivitis?
Healthy gums are pink in color, firm to the touch, and tightly fitted around each tooth’s base. Though you may not know you have gingivitis in the earliest beginning stages, the symptoms of gingivitis are not often hard to miss when you are specifically looking for them because they present very differently than healthy gums.
Statistically, 75% of all adults will experience some form of mild gingivitis throughout their life. Though, most cases can be reversed by visiting a dental professional for a deep clean and following a strict treatment plan.
Some of the most common signs of gingivitis include:
- Swollen and puffy gums
- Gums that bleed easily, especially when brushing and flossing
- Bad breath
- Temperature sensitivity
- Receding gum line
- Tender and sore gums
What causes gingivitis?
When caring for your teeth and gums, it is crucial to ensure that you are doing so correctly and carefully because the number one cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene. This does not necessarily mean that you are not caring for your gum health at all but that your technique or routine is insufficient for clearing all plaque and bacteria.
Sometimes though, even those who brush and floss regularly may exhibit signs of gingivitis. This reality is because many other factors can contribute to gum disease like tobacco, other diseases, nutrition, medication, and hormone changes.
Those who use tobacco through smoking or other avenues are seven times more likely to suffer from gum disease than those who do not use tobacco. Not only does tobacco use increase the likelihood of disease, but it can also hinder the success of treatment.
Some diseases can affect the body’s immune system and ability to fight off infections, such as cancer, HIV, and diabetes. Those who suffer from chronic illness should visit their dentist regularly to ensure their teeth and gums stay healthy.
A steady and nutritious diet contributes to a healthy mouth and gums. Conversely, a poor diet high in sugar content can inhibit the body from fighting off infection and bacteria, causing poor oral conditions.
Certain medications have the side-effect of affecting oral health conditions, such as causing dry mouth. If you regularly take over-the-counter or prescription medications, it is crucial to inform your dentist so that they can create an informed course of treatment.
Hormonal fluctuations can cause heightened sensitivities and inflammation in the body. Therefore those with hormone shifts due to puberty, pregnancy, menopause, or menstruation should take extra caution when caring for their oral health.
What happens if gingivitis goes untreated?
If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, a more severe gum disease that is often irreversible. Severe gum disease can cause teeth to loosen and fall out and can even cause complications throughout the body.
Untreated gum disease can harbor bacterias that travel through the bloodstream and cause heart disease or other complications. Therefore, it is best to make regular visits to your dentist to treat gum disease the moment it appears.
Preventing gingivitis and other gum disease requires proper oral hygiene. You should care for your teeth by daily brushing and flossing, replacing your toothbrush every 3 to 6 months, and visiting your dentist every 6 to 12 months, or more often if you have complications that need extra care.
If you do not already have a trusted dental professional to call your own, our team would be proud to provide dental care to you and your loved ones. Call our family at (480).838.3033 to schedule your first visit or consultation today.