If you think you may have gingivitis, you’re not alone: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 50% of the U.S. population will be affected by gingivitis at some point.
Right now, it’s estimated that over 35.7 million Americans suffer from gingivitis. Luckily, however, the condition is reversible. Read on to understand more about gingivitis causes, symptoms, and treatments.
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease, a condition which affects the gums, periodontal ligaments, and tooth sockets. Generally, gingivitis is limited to the gum area, and is caused by bacterial infection. There are two main forms of gingivitis: plaque-induced, and non-plaque induced.
- Plaque-induced gingivitis is the most common form of the condition. This is when plaque, a sticky material consisting of bacteria, food debris, and mucus, accumulates on the teeth. After a prolonged period of time, the plaque mineralizes into tartar, a hard white substance that makes the plaque more difficult to remove. As the plaque and tartar remain on the teeth, they begin to irritate, inflame, and infect the gums, triggering an autoimmune response.
- Non-plaque induced gingivitis, though less common, can also occur when other factors irritate or injure your gums. Overtly vigorous brushing, aggressive flossing, athletic injuries or food allergies can all injure your teeth and gums, leading to gingivitis. Other systemic conditions such as pregnancy, diabetes, and diseases that decrease immunity can also be risk factors.
The biggest indication of gingivitis is red, puffy gums which bleed when the patient brushes his or her teeth. In severe cases, the gums may be a deep magenta or even purple color. Additionally, some other symptoms include:
- Receding gums
- Tender gums which are painful to the touch
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Shiny appearance of gums
If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more severe forms of periodontal disease, and eventually, loss of teeth.
The best treatment for gingivitis depends on the cause. For plaque-induced cases, the solution can be as simple as increased or improved brushing and flossing. In any case, the first thing your dentist will do is remove the plaque and tartar in a process called “scaling”. After this initial procedure, it remains up to the patient to maintain a daily oral hygiene routine. Depending on your situation, your dentist may recommend:
- An electric toothbrush, which can be more thorough than an analog brush.
- A soft-bristled toothbrush that can accommodate sensitivity.
- More frequent brushing–at least 2 times a day.
- Holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brushing against the gumline.
- An antiseptic, anti-plaque mouthwash.
- Fluoride toothpaste containing an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredient.
- A healthy diet with increased Vitamin C and more calcium.
Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to address other underlying causes in order to fully combat gingivitis. However, good oral hygiene and frequent visits to your dentist will never hurt.
How We Can Help
If you suspect that you have gingivitis, it’s important to address it right away before your symptoms become more severe. The earlier gingivitis is diagnosed, the more easy, painless, and affordable treatment will be. At Friendly Dentistry, we have the experience, equipment, and personalized care necessary to nip your gingivitis symptoms in the bud.