Signs of Gingivitis

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Gingivitis is a mild version of gum disease caused by bacteria and plaque buildup. It is common to have red, swollen, and tender gums. Practicing good dental hygiene at home and seeing your dentist or periodontist every six months will help to catch and clear up gingivitis and prevent it from becoming a more severe form of gum disease.

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What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis, or periodontal disease, is an early form of gum disease. This happens due to poor dental hygiene from bacteria building up and infecting the gums. It’s common in adults over 30, mostly men. Researchers claim men are more likely to get gingivitis because of hormones and are less likely to visit the dentist. Smokers are more susceptible to gingivitis since smoking weakens the body’s immune system. A weakened immune system is more likely to get infections like gingivitis. Although gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease, more complications will likely follow if left untreated. Untreated gingivitis will turn into a more serious infection called periodontitis. Periodontitis is one of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults. 

What are the Symptoms of Gingivitis?

Gingivitis usually doesn’t show symptoms in most cases, so many people have it and don’t even know it. Though as your gingivitis develops, symptoms may appear and worsen. Those symptoms may include: 

  • Bad breath 
  • Sensitive and easily bleeding gums
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods
  • Pain when chewing
  • gums starting to pull away from your teeth
  • loose teeth
  • malocclusion

What is the Treatment for Gingivitis?

It may sound repetitive, but just like most dental issues, you need to practice good dental hygiene to treat and prevent gingivitis. Brush twice daily, floss every day, rinse with mouth wash and make sure to see your dentist every six months. It’s that simple. If you have persisting symptoms, it may be time to see a periodontist

1. Cleaning your teeth

Cleaning your teeth at the dentist isn’t just for cosmetic reasons but for dental health too. The dentist can remove all the plaque and tartar that have built up on your teeth in the gums. The most plaque you can remove at home is just from brushing, but there is a lot of plaque on your teeth that is hard to see, leading to more complex problems if untreated. At a teeth cleaning, your dentist will use special tools to find all the hard-to-see plaque and remove it for you. It’s important to remove all the plaque since plaque building up will irritate your gums, eventually leading to gingivitis. 

2. Medications

If a teeth cleaning isn’t an option or won’t cut it, there are a few medications that your dentist can give you to treat gingivitis. 

These medications are:

  • Antiseptic mouthwash – used to kill bacteria and disinfect your mouth.
  • Oral antibiotics – used to treat inflammation in the gums.
  • Doxycycline – an antibiotic

Make sure to keep your dental hygiene in check. Do your best to prevent bacteria and plaque buildup on your teeth and gums. Symptoms may not always appear, so it’s important to see your dentist every six months. Your dentist can help clear up gingivitis and prevent it from becoming a more severe gum disease. Keep brushing and make your smile a happy, healthy one.

Gingivitis FAQs

Gingivitis is primarily caused by plaque buildup on the teeth and gums. Saliva, food particles, and bacteria form the sticky coating known as plaque. When plaque is not effectively removed through regular brushing and flossing, it can irritate and inflame the gum tissue. The bacteria in plaque release toxins that further contribute to the inflammation. Poor oral hygiene practices are the main culprits behind developing gingivitis, but other factors such as hormonal changes, certain medications, smoking, and underlying health conditions can also increase the risk.

Early signs include red, swollen gums that may bleed readily. If untreated, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease. Regular dental hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings, is crucial in preventing and managing this condition.

No, gingivitis itself is not contagious. It is not a condition that can be transmitted from one person to another through direct contact or airborne means. Gingivitis develops due to poor oral hygiene and plaque accumulation on the teeth and gums. However, it’s important to note that the bacteria responsible for gingivitis can be present in the mouth and can potentially be transferred through activities such as sharing toothbrushes or other oral hygiene instruments. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid sharing these items to minimize the risk of spreading bacteria and potentially worsening the condition. Additionally, maintaining good oral hygiene practices and seeking appropriate dental care can help prevent the development and progression.

Several risk factors contribute to the development of gingivitis. Poor oral hygiene is the primary risk factor, as inadequate brushing and flossing allow plaque to accumulate and irritate the gums. Other factors include hormonal changes, such as those occurring during pregnancy or puberty, which can make gums more sensitive and prone to inflammation. Oral contraceptives and anticonvulsants are two examples of drugs that could increase the risk. Smoking weakens the immune system and damages oral tissues, making the gums more susceptible to infection.

Additionally, conditions like diabetes, certain systemic diseases, and a weakened immune system can elevate the risk of gingivitis. Routine dental care, good oral hygiene practices, and managing underlying medical disorders can reduce the risk.

A dental professional typically diagnoses gingivitis during a routine dental examination. The dentist or dental hygienist will visually inspect the gums for signs of inflammation, such as redness, swelling, and bleeding. They may use a periodontal probe, a thin instrument, to measure the depth of the spaces (periodontal pockets) between the gums and teeth, as deeper pockets can indicate gum disease.

Additionally, they may ask about symptoms, oral hygiene habits, and medical history to better assess overall oral health. In some cases, dental X-rays may be taken to evaluate the condition of the teeth and supporting structures. Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial to managing gingivitis and preventing it from progressing to more severe forms of gum disease.