Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease and the initial stage of periodontal disease. It’s characterized by swelling and inflammation of the gum tissue, specifically red, puffy gums that bleed when you brush or floss your teeth.
While you, along with many other Americans, may be tempted to think you don’t have to worry about gingivitis, the statistics say different. According to the CDC, 47% of adults over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease and 70% of adults older than 65 have periodontal disease.
It’s important to understand how to prevent gingivitis and how to identify it. Here’s what you should know.
Gingivitis: How Do You Contract It?
When plaque builds up in your mouth, gingivitis can be quick to follow. Plaque is a sticky, colorless film that forms over the surface of teeth and consists of mostly bacteria. The bacteria left in your mouth interacts with the bacteria left behind by the carbohydrates and sugars found in food to form plaque. The best way to keep plaque buildup at bay is consistently brushing and flossing your teeth—however, plaque is constantly forming.
Once untended plaque builds up for too long, it hardens and accumulates around the gum line, forming a substance known as calculus—otherwise known as tartar. Tartar can only be removed by your dental hygienist or dentist during a professional cleaning appointment.
When left untreated, tartar will begin to irritate your gum tissue. The bacterias found in tartar will irritate your gums to the point where you will start to see the early signs of gingivitis. Gingivitis then can lead to periodontal disease, which leads to infections in your gums, surrounding tissues, and bones.
Warning Signs of Gingivitis
Gingivitis can be notoriously difficult for nonprofessionals to identify. Ultimately, you’ll have to have your dentist be the one to diagnose and treat you. If your gums are pink and closely attached to your teeth then you most likely have a healthy mouth. There are, however, a few warning signs of gingivitis that you can look out for on your own. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see your dentist as soon as possible:
- Puffy or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
- Spaces developing between teeth
- Increase in tooth sensitivity
- Pain or tenderness when gums are touched
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums
- Purple or dark red gums
- Persistent bad breath
Gingivitis starts with plaque build-up, so the best way to prevent gingivitis is to fight off plaque. Having a solid oral health care routine is the most efficient way for you to prevent gingivitis and fight plaque at home. Brushing your teeth removes any build-up of plaque on the surface of your teeth and flossing daily ensures that plaque doesn’t linger between your teeth.
In addition to having a disciplined oral hygiene routine, avoid using tobacco products and eat foods that are high in antioxidants. However, there is only so much you can do at home to prevent gingivitis. In order to fully protect yourself from gingivitis and periodontal disease, it’s critical for you to see your dentist regularly. Only your dentist can properly diagnose you and help you prevent gingivitis with regular professional teeth cleaning.
Time for a Professional Teeth Cleaning?
Located in Hoover, Alabama, LeCroy Dental aims to make you feel comfortable and at home in a professional and compassionate manner. It’s our goal to exceed your expectations by providing a relaxed, friendly experience. Don’t let your oral health get overlooked. Contact us and schedule your appointment, today!