What Is Gingivitis?

posted by Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS on 1/5/2022 in General

dentist demonstrating proper care to patient on model of tooth

People often forget that taking care of your gums is just as important as taking care of your teeth. In spite of our best efforts, sometimes our gums can become infected. Gingivitis is a very common gum disease, but what exactly is it? And how can you take measures to prevent it from happening in the future?

What Is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a common oral disease that causes inflammation, redness, and soreness around the gums. It’s even possible to have chronic gingivitis due to other underlying conditions such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Gingivitis itself isn't a dangerous disease, but if left untreated it can become periodontitis. Periodontitis is a serious gum disease that can cause tooth loss. Additionally, a more severe form of gingivitis can also form as a result. 

This more severe version is known as necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, or trench mouth. Trench mouth causes infected bleeding gums and painful ulcers. Note that trench mouth is rare in developed nations, as gingivitis only progresses to that stage under poor nutrition and living conditions. 

What Are the Symptoms of Gingivitis?

There are several symptoms of gingivitis. The most common indication you may have gingivitis is the affected gums bleed whenever brushing or flossing them. As stated above, the disease also causes irritation, swelling, and redness in your gums, particularly around the base of your teeth. The gums will feel tender, and in some cases they may recede. Finally, gingivitis often causes halitosis, or bad breath. This is because of the buildup of plaque and odor that bacteria produces.

What Are the Causes of Gingivitis?

Poor oral hygiene is the primary cause of gingivitis. Because of this, plaque buildup needs to be managed routinely. Plaque is a sticky film made of bacteria. Plaque forms when food interacts with the common bacteria found in your mouth. If plaque builds up on your teeth, it begins to agitate the area of your gums at the base of your teeth known as the gingiva. After some time gingivitis will fully take root. Brushing your teeth properly at least twice daily is necessary to remove plaque build up. 

Gingivitis Risk Factors

Gingivitis is common. In fact, up to 75% of Americans will experience gingivitis in their lifetime. There are several indicators that suggest you may be at an increased risk of getting gingivitis. These indicators include:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Medications used to treat epileptic seizures, angina, and high blood pressure
  • Diseases that lower the body’s immune response such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, and diabetes
  • Crooked teeth or improper tooth restoration techniques
  • Old age and family genetics
  • Hormonal changes, including ones caused by pregnancy, menstrual cycles, and birth control pills
  • Poor nutrition

How Do You Treat Gingivitis?

If you already have gingivitis, there are ways to treat it. The best way to treat gingivitis at home is by adopting a daily routine of good oral care, stopping tobacco use, and starting a nutritious diet. A nutritious diet will give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to help fight against bacteria. 

To reduce gum disease, a diet should include nuts, seeds, fatty-fish such as salmon, chicken, broccoli, bell peppers, green tea, sweet potatoes, and other foods containing probiotics. Additionally, professional care can be given to help treat gingivitis. These treatments include:

  • Dental cleaning. A dentist will remove plaque, tartar, and harmful bacteria. They will do this by using a technique known as scaling and root planing. Scaling removes tartar and bacteria from your teeth as well as beneath your gums. Root planning removes the bacteria produced by inflammation which stops further buildup of tartar so your teeth can heal.
  • Dental restoration. If you have misaligned teeth or poorly fitting crowns, dental restorations may be needed to help remove plaque. If your dentist thinks these are the issues causing gingivitis, they can recommend solutions to these problems.
  • Ongoing care. The best way to treat gingivitis is to brush your teeth regularly. By maintaining an oral hygiene routine and having annual visits to the dentist, it’s possible to avoid gingivitis in most cases.

Gingivitis Treatment From Kimball & Beecher

If you have gingivitis, or you’re looking to take preventive cleaning measures, get in touch with your local Kimball & Beecher office to schedule an appointment. Our experienced and caring dentists will work with you to understand treatment options and establish a healthy dental routine.

About The Author

Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS

Dr. Beau Beecher is the founder and CEO, of Kimball and Beecher Family Dentistry. Kimball and Beecher Family Dentistry is known for being a patient-centered practice that puts comfort and convenience first. Over 50,000 patients in Iowa cities travel miles to experience the high level of ... read more

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