Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums, usually caused by a bacterial infection or buildup of plaque on the teeth. If it is left untreated, it can become a more serious infection known as gum disease, which is more difficult to treat and can have more harmful effects. In mild cases of gingivitis, you may not even know you have it, but once discovered, it should be taken seriously and addressed immediately.
Left unchecked, gingivitis can cause the gums to separate from the teeth and cause injury to the tissue and bone supporting the teeth. Your tooth may then become loose and unstable. And if the infection progresses, you may lose your tooth or need your dentist to remove it. For help finding a local dental professional, search for a dentist near you.
According to the American Dental Association, gingivitis is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Several studies have linked gum diseases like gingivitis to cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack or stroke.
Common Symptoms of Gingivitis
Signs of gingivitis include red gums that bleed easily when you brush your teeth. Other signs include:
In mild cases of gingivitis, there may be no discomfort or noticeable symptoms at all. This is one of the reasons why regular dental checkups are so important. The one way to determine if you have gingivitis is by making an appointment with your dentist. They can then review your symptoms, make an accurate diagnosis and give you their recommended treatment plan.
Common Causes of Gingivitis
The most common cause of gingivitis is the accumulation of bacterial plaque on the teeth due to poor oral hygiene. Other causes and risk factors for developing gingivitis include:
- Use of tobacco products
- Eating sugary foods
- Certain diseases
- Unhealthy diet
- Drug use
How to Treat and Prevent Gingivitis
Good oral hygiene is essential to both preventing and treating gingivitis. Remember to brush twice a day to remove plaque. Floss once a day to remove any buildup between your teeth. Having a professional cleaning by your dentist every 3-6 months will also greatly contribute to a healthy smile. Your dentist can recommend a suitable brush and mouthwash for you to use.
Who Treats Gingivitis?
Your dentist or oral hygienist will check for symptoms of gingivitis, such as plaque and signs of gum disease. If the gingivitis is caught early, and if you follow your dentist’s treatment plan, it can be successfully reversed. Treatment usually involves care by a dental professional and good oral hygiene. To find a dental office near you, visit our locations page.