Dental Conditions > Gingivitis
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease, often involving bleeding gums, inflammation, and bad breath.
It can be easily reversed with timely attention from a dentist.
When infected, gums may appear red or puffy. This occurs because the accumulation of plaque and tartar begins to irritate the gum tissue.
Once the gums become inflamed, they are more prone to bleeding when brushing or flossing.
Medically referred to as halitosis, bad breath is a common side effect of gingivitis.
Some People Are More Likelyto Develop Gingivitis Than Others
While gingivitis is common, there are certain risk factors that make you more likely to develop the condition, such as:
- Smoking or using tobacco products
- Poor-fitting restorations
- Teeth grinding
- Certain medications
- Poor oral hygiene
- Compromised immune system
Additionally, pregnant women often experience gum inflammation and irritation due to hormonal changes.
What is Plaque?
Plaque is a clear, sticky film that forms on the surface of the teeth when bacteria accumulate.
What Is Tartar?
When plaque remains on the teeth, it eventually hardens, becoming tartar. Tartar spurs gum disease by helping bacteria prosper and multiply.
Why Should I Do Something about It?
Without professional attention, gingivitis can escalate to periodontitis, resulting in gum recession and eventual tooth loss.
During an examination, your doctor will evaluate your gums and teeth for signs of gingivitis. He or she will also use a special tool to measure the depth of the pockets between your teeth and gums. Pockets of 4mm or deeper may indicate a more advanced stage of gum disease requiring special care.
Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene
You should brush your teeth twice and floss at least once every day. A well-maintained oral hygiene routine can prevent plaque from accumulating.
Attending Bi-Annual Cleanings & Exams
During your bi-annual checkup, your teeth will be professionally cleaned to remove plaque and tartar. Your doctor will also perform a comprehensive exam to look for any signs of gingivitis.
Avoiding Harmful Habits
Starchy or sugary foods can increase plaque buildup. Additionally, smoking affects your immune system, making your gums more susceptible to infection and less able to overcome it. Quit smoking and maintain a well-balanced diet to reduce your risk.
When it is detected early, a professional cleaning and improved at-home care can reverse gum disease. In some cases, a deep cleaning may be necessary to reduce the depth of the pockets between the teeth and gum tissue. During a deep cleaning, known as scaling and root planing, the doctor will remove bacteria and tartar along the tooth surfaces and below the gum line. He or she will then smooth the root surfaces to prevent bacterial accumulation in the future and help the gums reattach.
Although simple measures can reverse gingivitis, a dentist’s assessment and guidance are essential.
Good oral hygiene, quitting smoking, and controlling other risk factors can reverse gingivitis.
Used alone or in combination with other treatments, antibiotics can destroy the bacteria affecting the gums.
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