Also called gum inflammation or enflamed gums, gingivitis is a gum disease that should not be ignored. It does not get better on its own. Untreated gingivitis can lead to mouth pain, tooth loss, the gum disease peritonitis and may cause heart problems.
In fact, gum disease is an inflammation. When any part of the body is inflamed, the body works harder to attack the inflammation. Bits of inflammation wind up in the bloodstream which is carried to the heart. People with gingivitis are also more prone to getting diabetes as well as heart problems.
Gingivitis is caused by bacteria getting inside of the warm, moist area of the gums. Lack of proper brushing and flossing causes a build-up of the dangerous bacteria in and on the gums.
The first symptom of gingivitis is usually bleeding gums when brushing or flossing teeth or using a toothpick. Gums are sore and may appear swollen and redder than usual. Constant bad breath soon develops because of the presence of bacteria in the gums. Over time the gums begin to recede from the teeth, making the teeth appear longer than usual. Gums may become too sensitive for certain hot foods, cold foods or foods with small seeds like strawberries that easily irritate the gums.
If these symptoms are left untreated peritonitis develops and eventually teeth become loose.
Gingivitis occurs as a result of long-term build-up of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a substance made up of mucus, debris from food and bacteria which builds up on the teeth. Eventually, it can harden into a substance called tartar.
Both plaque and tartar can causes irritation to the gums and lead to inflammation, which is one symptom of gingivitis. The bacteria in the plaque can also create infection in the gums, which worsen the inflammation and makes gums feel swollen and sore.
Usually, gingivitis occurs as a result of infrequent brushing or poor brushing technique. However, certain things can increase the risk of developing the condition. For example, people with infections elsewhere in the body or with diseases affecting the whole body are more likely to develop gingivitis.
Pregnant women are also susceptible to it; this is because changing hormone levels increase gum sensitivity, so even small amounts of plaque can lead to inflammation. People with misaligned teeth, ill-fitting braces or dentures, and rough fillings may also develop gingivitis more readily because these factors can allow plaque to build up more easily in certain areas of the mouth.
Fortunately, gingivitis is treatable. It is best to first get a professional cleaning and diagnosis from a dentist.
The dentist may have to open up your gums to clean out all of the plague. Teeth that are crooked or hard to clean may need fixing in order to be cleaned. Brush and floss regularly every day afterwards with toothpaste and floss made for sensitive gums. Over the counter mouthwashes and mouth rinses can help fight bacteria.
The best way to prevent gingivitis is to adopt a good oral hygiene routine. Teeth should be brushed at least twice each day – once in the morning and once before bed. However, if you are particularly vulnerable to gingivitis it may be helpful to brush more frequently, such as after every meal.
Flossing is also an important aspect of oral hygiene, and this should be done once each day to remove plaque and food debris from in between the teeth, where the toothbrush bristles can’t reach.
Finally, having teeth professionally cleaned by a dentist or dental hygienist is also important. This can allow any lasting plaque, which you have been unable to remove with daily brushing, to be removed. Try to undergo professional cleaning every six months at least.