Gingivitis is one of the most common oral conditions in Americans today, affecting around 67% of the adult population. However, many people don’t know what it is and how to avoid it. So, what is gingivitis – and why is it bad? Well, it’s an early form of gum disease. For this reason, it’s very important to begin treatment sooner rather than later.
This condition causes redness, swelling, and tenderness of the gingiva, the part of the gum closest to the teeth. What’s more, even worse problems may follow. Keep reading to gain a better understanding of this concerning condition and its causes.
“What is Gingivitis?”
We hear this question every day. There’s a large difference between healthy gums and gums that are compromised. Healthy gums should be a pale pink color and should be firmly fitted around each tooth. Infected gums look like:
- Swollen and puffy
- Bright or dark red in color
- Bleeds easily
- Receding gum line
- Tender to the touch
Causes of Gingivitis
The most common cause is poor oral hygiene. The absence of an oral hygiene routine allows plaque to flourish, and in some cases can result in gingivitis. Here’s how it happens:
1. Plaque Forms on the Teeth
This clear, sticky film is made up of bacteria that feeds on leftover starches and sugars on the surface of the teeth.
2. Plaque Turns Into Tartar
When plaque isn’t removed by brushing, it can build up and harden into tartar on the gumline. Tartar locks bacteria into the gumline, allowing irritation to fester.
3. Gingiva Becomes Irritated, Resulting in Gingivitis
The longer plaque and tartar stay on the teeth, the worse the irritation becomes. Gums can begin to recede and bleed easily, resulting in pain when brushing, flossing, and even eating.
“Why is Gingivitis Bad?”
It may seem like a mild condition, but it can escalate into a far worse condition if you don’t address it quickly.
Gingivitis is the first stage of this oral disease. If not treated, it can turn into advanced gum disease.
More serious cases of gingivitis-turned-tooth loss can result in tooth decay and tooth loss.
Systematic Disease Association
Gingivitis is thought to be linked to diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, respiratory disease, and coronary artery disease.
Although it’s rare, gingivitis can turn into a severe case of trench mouth (necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis). This condition causes infection, bleeding, and painful ulcerations.
How to Prevent Gingivitis
Gingivitis is an easy condition to treat and prevent. However, prevention requires consistency.
1. Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Brushing 2-3 a day for 2 minutes at a time paired with flossing once a day helps to remove food and bacteria trapped between the teeth and in the gumline.
2. Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Seeing your dentist twice a year for a cleaning critically reduces your chances of developing gingivitis. A dental cleaning removes all tartar buildup, giving your teeth a refresh every 6 months.
3. Make Healthy Choices
Avoiding sugary food and drinks is a great prevention method. Additionally, limiting tobacco use and alcohol intake will improve gum health.
Choose Winn Smiles Today!
Now that you know what gingivitis is, it’s time to do something about it. For regular checkups, dental cleanings, and dental treatments, visit our office. We offer prevention and treatment services as well as other dental procedures to ensure a pain-free, healthy smile. For more information, call us at one of our branch locations! Choose from our Shallowford, Brainerd, Cleveland, and North Chattanooga offices.