Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums and a form of periodontal disease. This inflammation can damage the tissues in the mouth, including the gums and tooth sockets.
What Causes Gingivitis?
Plaque deposits on the teeth cause gingivitis to develop. Bacteria, mucus, and food residue combine to form a sticky substance on the teeth that is known as plaque. A buildup of plaque leads to tooth decay. If plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth and not removed, it becomes tartar. Tartar is a hard substance that forms at the base of the teeth and inflames the gums. The bacteria in plaque and tartar can cause the gums to become inflamed, infected, swollen, and tender.
Risk Factors for Gingivitis
There are a variety of factors that increase a person’s risk for developing gingivitis, including the following:
- Certain diseases and infections;
- Poor dental hygiene practices;
- Hormonal changes of pregnancy;
- Diabetes, particularly when uncontrolled;
- Certain medications, including some types of birth control pills;
- Unclean mouth appliances, including braces, dentures, and crowns;
- Misaligned teeth.
Symptoms of Gingivitis
If you have gingivitis, you may experience a variety of symptoms. Your gums may look red and swollen. Your gums may bleed easily, particularly while you are brushing your teeth. This is often one of the first symptoms that people notice when they have gingivitis. It is a common sign of inflammation in the gums.
There is often no pain associated with gingivitis, which means that it can go unnoticed and untreated for extended periods of time. The gums may be tender to the touch, but otherwise painless.
People who have gingivitis may also experience bad breath. The bacteria and food residue that are present in the mouth can cause chronic bad breath, and can also create an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
As gingivitis progresses, the gums may begin to recede. This causes the teeth to lose their supportive structure of bone. The teeth may become loose. The upper and lower teeth may not fit together in the same way as they once did, and partial dentures may no longer fit properly.
Treatment for Gingivitis
The object of treatment for gingivitis is to reduce the inflammation of the gums. Your dentist or dental hygienist will perform a professional cleaning to remove any plaque or tartar buildup from your teeth and gums. They might also recommend that you have more frequent professional cleanings. You will be shown how to properly brush, floss, and use antibacterial mouth rinses. Your dentist might also recommend that you use topical or systemic antibiotics.
Scaling or root planning might be recommended, which involves the deep cleaning of tartar and bacteria from the roots of the teeth and gums. If misaligned teeth are contributing to the gingivitis, your dentist may recommend that you undergo treatment to correct the alignment.
Prevention of Gingivitis
You can help to prevent gingivitis through good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth at least twice every day, and floss at least once a day. It is particularly important to brush and floss before you go to bed at night. Brushing after each meal is helpful.
Visit the dentist for a routine cleaning every six months. If your gums are red, shiny, swollen, or bleeding, contact your dentist.
If you have symptoms of gingivitis or are overdue for a dental checkup, get in touch with the office of Dr. TJ Bolt. Dr. Bolt provides comprehensive dental care from a lifestyle approach. The office provides a warm, welcoming, soothing environment where you can receive the dental care that you need. Call Dr. Bolt’s office to make an appointment today.