Red, swollen, or tender gums. Bad breath that doesn’t go away. Bleeding when you brush or floss. While any of these mild symptoms can be overlooked, if you notice them regularly, it’s time to take notice.
That’s because they can be early symptoms of gum disease, known as gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more serious gum and oral diseases. But the good news is that gingivitis is completely reversible if detected and treated early.
What causes gingivitis?
Gingivitis is most commonly caused by inadequate oral hygiene such as insufficient brushing, Not enough flossing or no Regular dental check-ups. Without good oral hygiene, plaque builds up on teeth and can harden into tartar. Plaque and tartar contain bacteria, and these bacteria can damage your gums, leading to inflammation.
What are the symptoms of gingivitis?
Symptoms of gingivitis may include one or more of the following:
- Swollen or pus-filled gums
- Gums are dark red, not light pink
- Gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss
- Gums pulling away from teeth (gingival recession)
- Soft gums
When should you see your dentist for symptoms of gingivitis?
Having one or more of the symptoms listed above is a reason to see a dentist. But in general, any pain or bleeding in your mouth means it’s time to make an appointment. It can be easy to overlook a little irritation, but it’s important to treat oral health conditions like gingivitis as soon as possible.
How to diagnose gingivitis?
To diagnose gingivitis, your dentist will closely examine your teeth and gums for signs of inflammation, receding gums, and more. They may also ask you questions about your medical and dental history to find out if you have any risk factors for gingivitis, such as tobacco use or family history. Have gum disease or not?
Your dentist or dental hygienist can also measure the depth of the space or “pocket” between your teeth and the gum tissue around them. The vesicles in a healthy mouth are usually 1-3 mm deep. X-rays may also be done to check for bone loss.
Can gingivitis be cured?
In general, yes. If gingivitis is caught early, before any permanent damage occurs, your gums can heal.
Can you get rid of gingivitis on your own?
Taking steps to improve your oral hygiene can certainly help reduce gingivitis symptoms. But a dental exam is needed to determine how advanced gum disease is. For example, plaque can be removed with good brushing and flossing, but plaque should be removed by a dental hygienist.
How do you prevent gingivitis?
You can make a number of oral hygiene habits and lifestyle changes to prevent gingivitis from developing or recurring, including:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day, using a soft toothbrush or an electric toothbrush.
- Floss at least once a day. If you have trouble flossing, your dentist and hygienist can give you helpful tools to make it easier.
- Eat a healthy diet to support your immune system and cut down on snacking between meals. Snacks often contain sugar that the bacteria in plaque eat.
- Consider quitting smoking or vaping. Tobacco use contributes to plaque buildup and slows down the healing process. Your dentist and hygienist can provide support and resources to help.
How is gingivitis treated?
In addition to the steps you take yourself, your dentist can treat gingivitis with:
- Scaling and Stem Cells– Some people call this deep cleaning. Scaling is the process of using a specialized tool to remove tartar and plaque on the teeth. Scaling removes bacteria and smoothes the surface of root tissue on teeth below the gum line. The smooth root surface heals better and makes it harder for bacteria to grow.
- Restoration (dental filling)If there are structural problems in the mouth that make oral care more difficult or contribute to irritation, your dentist may suggest fixing them. Common examples include ill-fitting crowns or fillings.
- Recommended dental careThese may include prescriptions for specific toothpastes or mouthwashes, tips for improving your daily oral hygiene, and a suggested schedule for dental checkups.
What happens if you don’t treat gingivitis?
If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into more advanced gum disease, known as periodontitis. Symptoms of periodontitis are more severe, which can lead to serious infections, bone loss, and tooth loss.
Don’t wait to take care of your oral health
Oral health problems are best treated early, before they become more painful and costly. So if you notice changes in your mouth that could be a sign of gingivitis, or if you have any other concerns about your oral health, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your dentist. .
At your appointment, you will have a dental exam and your dentist will work with you to address any oral health concerns you have.