When infected, gums may appear red or puffy. This occurs because the accumulation of plaque and tartar begins to irritate the gum tissue.
Once the gums become inflamed, they are more prone to bleeding when brushing or flossing.
Medically referred to as halitosis, bad breath is a common side effect of gingivitis.
So what happens to my gums if I have gingivitis?
Am I at risk of gingivitis?
While gingivitis is common, there are certain risk factors that make you more likely to develop the condition, such as:
Additionally, pregnant women often experience gum inflammation and irritation due to hormonal changes.
So what actually causes gingivitis?
Plaque is a clear, sticky film that forms on the surface of the teeth when bacteria accumulate.
When plaque remains on the teeth, it eventually hardens, becoming tartar. Tartar spurs gum disease by helping bacteria prosper and multiply.
Without professional attention, gingivitis can escalate to periodontitis, resulting in gum recession and eventual tooth loss.
Is gingivitis really that common?
How is gingivitis diagnosed?
During an examination, your doctor will evaluate your gums and teeth for signs of gingivitis. He or she will also use a special tool to measure the depth of the pockets between your teeth and gums. Pockets of 4mm or deeper may indicate a more advanced stage of gum disease requiring special care.
How can I prevent gingivitis?
You should brush your teeth twice and floss at least once every day. A well-maintained oral hygiene routine can prevent plaque from accumulating.
During your bi-annual checkup, your teeth will be professionally cleaned to remove plaque and tartar. Your doctor will also perform a comprehensive exam to look for any signs of gingivitis.
Starchy or sugary foods can increase plaque buildup. Additionally, smoking affects your immune system, making your gums more susceptible to infection and less able to overcome it. Quit smoking and maintain a well-balanced diet to reduce your risk.
Can my smile be made healthy again?
When it is detected early, a professional cleaning and improved at-home care can reverse gum disease. In some cases, a deep cleaning may be necessary to reduce the depth of the pockets between the teeth and gum tissue. During a deep cleaning, known as scaling and root planing, the doctor will remove bacteria and tartar along the tooth surfaces and below the gum line. He or she will then smooth the root surfaces to prevent bacterial accumulation in the future and help the gums reattach.
Tell me more about my treatment options...
I think I may have gingivitis...
If you notice that your gums bleed when you brush or floss, or if you have persistent bad breath, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately. He or she can provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan to protect your oral health.
Dr Perry is a great dentist. Very kind and informative. I feel like he is personally invested in my health. He always takes the time to sit and discuss any issues I'm having - I never feel like they're rushing me out.