Hearing the words gum disease come out of your dentist’s mouth is a sure way to send panic through your body. Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss and puts you at risk for other serious systemic diseases. Knowing the early warning signs of gingivitis is key to ensuring you help your gums to avoid periodontal disease before it’s too late.
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. It takes hold on your gums when plaque builds up on your teeth, irritating your gums and causing them to become inflamed. The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene that encourages plaque to form on the teeth, causing inflammation of the surrounding gum tissue.
Plaque can lead to gingivitis by:
- Plaque forms on your teeth. Because of the bacteria that forms on your teeth, when starches and sugars in foods interact with bacteria normally found in your mouth it causes plaque. Plaque requires daily removal because it reforms so quickly.
- Plaque turns to tartar. Plaque that stays on your teeth can harden under your gumline into tartar which collects bacteria. Tartar makes plaque more difficult to remove, and requires a professional dental cleaning to completely remove tartar.
- Gingiva becomes inflamed. The longer that plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more they irritate the part of your gum around the base of your teeth, called gingiva, leading to inflammation.
Signs of Gingivitis
Healthy gums should be firm and pink in color. If you notice any of the symptoms below, contact your dentist right away:
- Swollen gum tissue
- Soft, and puffy in appearance
- Receding gums that look to be pulling away from your teeth
- Dusky red or purple in color instead of light pink
- Bleeding, especially after you brush or floss
- Persistent bad breath
If caught early enough, gingivitis can be corrected with better oral hygiene techniques including brushing and flossing.
Preventing Gum Disease in Your Daily Life
If you have a history of periodontal disease in your family, prevention might feel hopeless as this is a genetic disease. But if you spend just a few minutes considering your gums each day, you really can help to keep gum disease from returning, or perhaps from appearing in the first place.
Incorporating these healthy habits into your life for a disease-free smile:
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day for a full two minutes is essential in making sure you’re getting a proper clean, every time. The primary cause of gum infection and inflammation is plaque buildup. If you brush often and well, you can avoid that at home by making sure you’re brushing properly and that you’re never skipping brushing your teeth.
Don’t Skip Flossing
Many patients don’t floss on a regular basis. Did you know that you should be flossing your teeth once a day? Flossing can often feel like an extra annoyance, but it really does make a difference, which is why your dentist is always reminding you to floss! Floss reaches areas of your teeth up against your gum line that a toothbrush can’t always reach. Flossing also helps to strengthen your gums which makes them more resistant to inflammation.
Familiarize Yourself With Gingivitis Symptoms
Knowing the early symptoms of gingivitis will help you understand when it’s time to schedule an appointment if you see something that doesn’t appear as normal. Be on the lookout for gums that are bleeding, dark red or purple, tender, receding, puffy or otherwise different from their normal pink appearance.
Keeping Regular Dental Exams
Visiting your dentist on a regular basis, every six months is one of the best ways to keep track of the healthy state of your mouth. If you have a history of gum disease, making appointments more often than six months could help keep gum disease at bay with an extra set of eyes checking your gums for signs and symptoms so nothing is missed.
Make an appointment with Dr. Phillippi at Smile Professionals today if you are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of Gingivitis.