Gingivitis is a common form of gum disease that causes inflammation, irritation, and redness of the gingiva. This is the part of your gum that lies at the base of the teeth.
Even though gingivitis is a non-destructive type of disease that comes and goes, if left untreated, it can lead to periodontitis. For those who do not know, periodontitis is a serious condition that can result in loss of teeth.
Types of Gingivitis
There are two main types of gingival diseases. These include the following:
Dental Plaque-Induced Gingival Disease / Non-Plaque Induced Gingival Lesions
Dental Plaque-induced gingival disease can be caused by a series of factors, including plaque, medications, and even malnutrition. A special bacterium, viruses, or fungi may be responsible for non-plaque induced gingival lesions. It could also be caused by genetic factors, allergic reactions, certain illnesses, wounds, and reactions to foreign bodies (dentures). However, sometimes there is no explanation of non-plaque induced gingival lesions.
Causes of Gingivitis
Gingivitis is caused by poor oral hygiene. Poor hygiene allows the growth of plaque on the teeth, which causes inflammation on the surrounding gum tissues. Here is how plaque is the main culprit of gingivitis:
Plaque Starts to Form on the Teeth
You brush your teeth every morning and night to remove plaque- an invisible substance made of bacteria that forms a film on your teeth when starches and sugars in food come into contact with the bacteria found in your mouth.
Dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice a day as plaque reforms quickly on the teeth.
Plaque Becomes Tartar
When plaque stays on your teeth for too long, it hardens under the gumline and forms tartar (calculus). Over time, this collects bacteria. Once tartar is formed, plaque is difficult to remove because it creates a rigid shield for bacteria and results in inflammation and irritation along the gumline.
Once tartar has formed, your toothbrush cannot remove it. You will need to get the tartar cleaned professionally by a dentist.
Inflammation Leads to Gingivitis
If plaque and tartar stay on your teeth and gums for too long, they will irritate the gingiva. The gingiva is the part of your gum that covers the base of the teeth. This will eventually lead to inflammation.
Over time, your gums will swell up and bleed often. This may also result in tooth decay. Without professional dental care, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis and, eventually, loss of teeth.
Signs of Gingivitis
Usually, healthy gums are firm and of pale pink color that fit tightly around the base of the teeth. If you have gingivitis, you might experience:
- Swollen, puffy gums
- Dark red or dusky gums
- Bleeding when you brush or floss
- Bad breath
- Receding gums
- Tender gums
Factors that can Increase Your Risk of Gingivitis
Even though gingivitis is a common illness that anyone who does not take care of their oral hygiene can develop, there are a few factors that can increase your risk of getting gingivitis:
- Bad oral hygiene
- Chewing tobacco
- Old age
- Dry mouth
- Poor health
- Vitamin C deficiency
- Dental restorations that are not the right fit
- Crooked teeth that cannot be cleaned easily
- Lower immunity caused by conditions, such as leukemia, HIV/AIDS, cancer treatment, etc.
- Drugs are taken for epileptic seizures, such as Dilatin or Phenytek
- Calcium channel blockers used to cure angina.
- High blood pressure medication
- Changes in hormones, especially during pregnancy, menstrual cycle, or those caused by the use of birth control
- Fungal infections
How to Prevent Gingivitis
There are a few ways you can prevent gingivitis:
It is important to brush your teeth twice a day, for two whole minutes, every single day. Brush your teeth when you wake up in the morning and right before you go to bed at night. Besides brushing your teeth, it is also important to floss once a day.
Dentists recommend brushing or flossing your teeth after every meal. Flossing is recommended before brushing as this way, you can loosen food particles and bacteria that will be washed away once you brush your teeth.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
It is important to visit your dentist every six to twelve months. If you have a dry mouth or are taking certain medications, or smoke, your dentist may recommend scaling or cleaning more often.
Dental X-rays help identify diseases that cannot be viewed in a routine dental examination. They help monitor your dental health.
There is no denying that eating healthy and managing blood sugars in case of diabetes is essential to maintain good oral and gum health.
If you are suffering from any kind of oral disease, or even slight pain and discomfort, visit your dentist as soon as possible!