Gingivitis is one of the most common dental issues affecting health. So, why don’t more people take the steps they need to combat it? Let’s demystify and reveal what it is and what you can do to prevent it
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a form of gum disease. It is the irritation and inflammation of your gingiva – the part of your gums around the base of the teeth. Hence the name.
Every day when you brush your teeth you are removing plaque, a bio-film residue on your teeth formed by bacteria. When too much plaque is left there, the bacteria camp out on the teeth or in spaces between the gums and teeth. These bacteria eventually create inflammation. In the early stages, gingivitis is treatable. However, if left untreated, it can lead to many more serious health issues such as periodontal (gum) disease, bone loss in the jaw, tooth loss or decay, and even infections that can spread elsewhere in the body.
How do I know if I have Gingivitis?
You will likely see the signs of gingivitis well before the dentist see them. The earliest warning sign is bleeding gums when you brush your teeth. While you may think, “oh I’m just brushing too hard”, it’s more likely that you are brushing gums that are inflamed. Your gums might also be red or swollen. Or, you might notice bad breath. According to the American Dental Association, people who smoke, have diabetes or take certain medications, have a higher risk of developing gingivitis.
Pets can have gingivitis too. If your cat or dog has red around the base of their teeth, it may be an indication of gingivitis. This is a good time to visit the vet for a teeth cleaning and ask about pet dental chews or toothpaste. The cost of dental surgery for pets has greatly increased, so taking preventative action now will be a great benefit later.
What to Do If you Suspect Gingivitis
If you experience those early warning signs, evaluate your dental care habits.
- Are you brushing and flossing often enough and correctly? Brushing at least twice a day and flossing once is recommended. Check your toothbrush for wear, and make sure it is the right size for your mouth.
- When was the last time you had your teeth cleaned at the dentist? The hygienist can remove hardened plaque that evades the toothbrush.
This is the stage at which your actions can prevent further damage. It may take a couple of weeks to notice improvement. Once you have had gingivitis, and taken steps to get rid of it, you are not off the hook. It can easily come back if your dental care regimen falters.
Whitmore Dental welcomes you to discuss these symptoms with your dentist. Have you noticed signs of gingivitis?
Come in for a dental exam and cleaning. Contact us today.