Gingivitis – very simply – is an inflammation of your gums. (Any time a medical term ends with “itis” it means inflammation.) Gingivitis varies in severity and can look a few different ways. Very bad gingivitis leads to periodontal (gum) disease.
Gingivitis is common and affects many, rather, most adults. But with good oral hygiene and the care of a professional Edmonds dentist, you should be able to avoid any major problems and even prevent gingivitis before it begins!
Dr. Kitts talks more below about what causes gingivitis, how to prevent it, and how to treat it if it happens to you!
Causes of Gingivitis
Plaque forms on your teeth and near your gums after you eat and drink. Regular brushing and flossing cleans your teeth and removes this plaque. But if you go too long without brushing and flossing, or you don’t do it well enough, the plaque can really build up and even harden in your mouth. At this point, the plaque becomes tartar that can only be removed by a dental professional.
Gingivitis happens because:
- Tartar builds up on the line where your teeth and gums meet, it sticks and hardens to your soft gum tissue.
- Tartar irritates your gums and makes them more sensitive to oral bacteria that normally aren’t a problem.
- Your gums inflame in order to fight the bacteria and tartar.
- Inflammation causes gums to bleed easily during brushing and flossing.
Effects of Gingivitis
In most cases, gingivitis just means slightly swollen and sore gums. If this happens, call your dentist and definitely keep brushing your teeth. Try brushing lightly and using a soft toothbrush if your mouth is very sensitive.
If your symptoms don’t go away, gingivitis can cause:
- Red, swollen gums
- Gums bleed easily
- Bad breath or taste
- Sensitive or painful gums
- Gums pull away from teeth and form pockets around teeth
- Tooth loss caused by periodontitis
Good oral hygiene is important for everyone and can do a lot to keep you and your mouth healthy. Still, some risk factors make you more likely to develop gingivitis:
- Hormonal changes in women
- Diseases that lower your immune system
- Dry mouth (sometimes caused by prescription medication)
- Being a male over 30 years old
As always, brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day is the best way to care for your teeth and gums. Flossing or cleaning between your teeth once a day is also very important. Make sure you curve the floss in a C-shape, around the tooth, and under the gumline.
Next, be sure to get regular dental care from our team at Soundview Family Dental – about two visits per year is considered typical. If you have gingivitis or gum disease, Dr. Kitts will help remove tartar, control the infection, and might advise you to change some personal hygiene habits. More advanced cases of gum disease may require more extensive treatment methods.
If you’re looking for an Edmonds dentist to help you feel your best, we are taking new patients. Contact us to make an appointment at Soundview Family Dental today!