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Gingivitis: Symptoms and Causes in Warsaw, IN
Have you ever noticed blood when brushing your teeth? If so, you may have gingivitis. It’s the mildest form of gum disease, but it still requires treatment. Your dentist can help you reverse gingivitis, but if it progresses to periodontal disease, it is not reversible. Both gingivitis and periodontal are gum diseases; gingivitis isn’t destructive, but periodontal disease can destroy teeth, ligaments and bone.
The CDC estimates that half of all Americans over 30 have mild, moderate or severe periodontal disease. This does not count gingivitis, which can progress to periodontal disease without treatment. That’s 64.7 million American adults who have a disease that can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
What Evidence Does a Dentist Look for to Diagnose Gingivitis?
If you notice any of the following symptoms, you may have gingivitis:
- Puffy gums
- Red gums
- Your gums bleed when flossing or brushing your teeth
- Tender gums
- Unexplained unpleasant breath
Please contact us for an appointment if you suspect that you have gingivitis. Early gingivitis treatment will help prevent the disease from progressing to periodontal disease.
If your gingivitis has progressed to periodontal disease, you may also notice:
- Loose teeth
- New spaces between your teeth
- A change in your bite
- Receding gums
- A change in the way partial dentures fit
How Does Gingivitis Start?
Gingivitis is gum inflammation that is caused by the bacteria in plaque. Gingivitis starts when plaque accumulates on your teeth. It will eventually harden into tartar, which you can’t remove yourself. If you have poor oral hygiene habits, you will likely get gingivitis at some point as plaque will stay on your teeth too long.
When you don’t get treatment for gingivitis, you risk that it will turn into periodontal disease. If this happens, the tartar will spread below your gums, where it will attack the bone and tissue supporting your teeth. Your gums will pull away from your teeth, creating infected pockets between your teeth and gums. Your teeth will loosen and your dentist may have to pull them.
To avoid this scenario, please contact us to schedule treatment if you see any signs of gingivitis. Gingivitis will not always progress into periodontal disease, but it isn’t worth taking chances with your oral health. Gingivitis always precedes periodontal disease, which is the main cause of adult tooth loss.
What Are the Risk Factors for Gingivitis?
The two biggest risk factors for developing gingivitis are poor oral hygiene habits and not having a dental checkup and professional teeth cleaning every six months. Other risk factors include:
- Tobacco use: Smoking is the main reason gum disease treatment is not effective.
- Some prescription drugs: Saliva helps wash away plaque between brushings, but certain antidepressants and blood pressure medications can cause dry mouth.
- Genetics: Up to 30 percent of the general population is predisposed to gum disease.
- Poor nutrition: Inadequate nutrition makes it harder for the body to fight infections.
- Stress: Stress can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections, and gum disease treatment less effective.
- Hormonal changes: Whenever hormones fluctuate, changes occur in the mouth.
- Poorly fitting dentures
- Having certain diseases: Having diabetes or HIV increases the chance of developing periodontal disease.
- Broken or loose fillings
- Crooked teeth: Crooked teeth are harder to brush, making it more difficult to remove plaque.
How Can Gum Disease Contribute to Other Medical Conditions?
A wide range of diseases have a known or highly probable link to gum disease:
- Diabetes: According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, untreated periodontal disease makes it harder for diabetics to control their blood sugar.
- Premature Births: Periodontal disease is associated with premature births, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Pneumonia: The Mayo Clinic also says you can inhale bacteria from your mouth into your lungs, causing respiratory diseases such as pneumonia.
- Dementia: Bacteria from gum disease can enter the bloodstream and kill brain cells, resulting in memory loss.
- Heart Health: You can be at a higher risk for having a heart attack if the bacteria from gum disease gets into your bloodstream as it can harden your arteries. However, “The American Heart Association and the American Dental Association currently state that while periodontal disease and heart health have an association, more research is required to establish whether one causes the other.”
- Strokes: At the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference, two researchers presented information linking periodontal disease to a higher incidence of strokes. Gum disease is a bacterial infection causing inflammation. Inflammation can lead to hardening of arteries and artery blockages, which can cause a stroke.
What Is Gingivitis Treatment?
Gingivitis is curable, so be sure to contact us at the first signs or symptoms. Typically, the best course of treatment is a professional teeth cleaning and an evaluation of your at-home oral care regimen. If you schedule regular checkups and cleanings and maintain thorough at-home care, you should remain gingivitis free.
The earlier you recognize the signs of gum disease and seek treatment, the less invasive your treatment will be. If your gingivitis has already advanced to periodontal disease, we will provide the appropriate treatment based on the disease’s severity. You can expect your dentist to suggest a deep cleaning first, which gets plaque and bacteria from under the gumline. Surgery is a last resort to treat severe gum disease.
Please contact our dental practice as soon as you notice any symptoms of gum disease to schedule an appointment for a diagnosis and treatment. We’re looking forward to meeting you.