Do I Have Gingivitis?

If you’ve been experiencing pain or discomfort around your gums, it’s possible you have gingivitis. That may sound scary, but gingivitis is a very common and simple to address issue. That being said, it is important to take it seriously and take steps to mitigate it early, as it can lead to more severe dental health issues if left untreated. 

What is Gingivitis? 

Gingivitis is a mild form of periodontal disease (gum disease) that affects the gums around your teeth (called gingiva). To know for sure whether or not you have gingivitis, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist. The following list of symptoms may help you determine if it’s time to take that step. 

Symptoms of Gingivitis

Swollen gums. Gums that regularly feel or look swollen or puffy are most often a symptom of gum disease, such as gingivitis. 

Tender gums. If you feel that your gums are tender to the touch or hurt when chewing, this may be a sign of gingivitis or more serious periodontal disease. 

Bleeding gums. If you notice blood in your mouth after brushing or flossing regularly, you should make an appointment with your dentist as it could be a sign of gingivitis or a more severe condition. 

Receding gums. Gums that seem to be shrinking or pulling away from your teeth signal an issue with gum health and may be a symptom of gum disease. 

Bad breath. Although bad breath can be caused by a number of issues, consistent or extreme bad breath may be a symptom of gingivitis. 

Am I at Risk of Developing Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is typically caused by plaque forming and being left on the teeth, then turning into tartar, leading to inflammation of the gingiva. While this is typically a result of poor oral hygiene, there are other factors to consider. 

While anyone can develop gingivitis, there are some factors that may make certain people at higher risk. Genetics, habits, and certain medical conditions may lead to gingivitis. It is important to know your risk level so you can address any possible causes leading to gingivitis. Below are some of the most common risk factors. 

Health-Related Factors for Gingivitis 

Medical conditions, both genetic and environmental, may lead to gum disease. It is important to be aware of your family medical history and discuss it with your dentist. 

Hormonal changes, such as those accompanying pregnancy or certain medications may trigger oral health changes that can lead to gingivitis. Consult your doctor and dentist about hormonal changes that may affect your dental health. 

A weakened immune system, found in people with autoimmune diseases and those undergoing cancer treatments, may make you more susceptible to gingivitis. 

Certain medications, such as those used to treat high blood pressure and seizures may cause gum disease. Ask your doctor about these risks. 

Gingivitis and Habit-Related Factors

Poor oral care habits are the leading cause of gingivitis. Brushing and flossing at least twice each day and scheduling regular cleanings and checkups can help you avoid most dental health issues, including gum disease. 

Tobacco use is a leading cause of gum disease and other serious dental health issues. Both smoking and chewing tobacco should be limited or quit completely to avoid gingivitis as well as much more severe medical conditions and diseases. 

Poor nutrition, especially vitamin deficiencies, may lead to gum disease. Discuss how proper nutrition affects dental health with your doctor and dentist. 

What are the Risks of Untreated Gingivitis?

While gingivitis itself is uncomfortable and painful, it can also lead to much more severe issues. Here are a few of the possible oral hygiene complications that may develop when gingivitis is left unaddressed. 

Trench mouth. Though not common in developed countries, necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (NUG, or trench mouth), is a severe and painful form of gingivitis which may include ulcers, bleeding, and infection.

Periodontitis and tooth loss. Gingivitis can spread to the tissue under the gums and even to the bone, which can then result in tooth loss and the need for major surgery. Periodontitis can be extremely painful and is irreversible. 

Systemic diseases. Untreated gingivitis can cause major health issues unrelated to oral health. Some research suggests gingivitis may be linked to diseases such as diabetes, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease. The bacteria which causes periodontitis may enter your bloodstream and affect your heart and lungs. 

How is Gingivitis Treated?

The key to treating gingivitis is early detection. Preventative and early treatment typically reverses the symptoms and prevents more serious periodontitis, tooth loss, and other diseases. Regular dental visits can address the early signs of gingivitis. Here’s what to expect from early-detection dental intervention. 

Scaling. During a professional dental cleaning, the dental hygienist may “scale” your teeth and gums to remove plaque and tartar from the tooth surfaces and beneath your gums. 

Root planing. Planing addresses the bacteria produced by inflammation of the gums and smooths the roots of the teeth, which discourages plaque and tartar buildup. Instruments used during this procedure may include manual tools, ultrasonic devices, or a laser. 

What Can I Do to Avoid Gingivitis and More Severe Gum Disease?

Although certain genetic and health-related risk factors of gingivitis are unavoidable, there are a few basic steps you can take to avoid developing gingivitis and its more serious complications. 

Practicing a healthy lifestyle. Healthy eating, regular exercise, limited alcohol and tobacco use, and regular health checkups can help avoid many oral health issues, including gingivitis. 

Managing your health risk factors. If you have chronic dry mouth or are taking medications that may lead to gum disease, management and regular discussion with your doctor are very important. Managing blood sugar for those with diabetes and paying attention to your blood pressure can also help you avoid gingivitis and diagnose related issues early. 

Practicing good oral health. Brushing and flossing regularly, and checking your gums regularly are paramount in avoiding many dental health issues and major diseases. Preventative health measures are key, and oral health is no exception. 

Regular dentist visits. Of course, visiting the dentist for cleanings and checkups once or twice each year can help to prevent and diagnose any issues that may arise, including gingivitis.

Schedule Your Cleaning or Checkup Today!

The first step in avoiding or addressing gingivitis and other forms of gum disease is scheduling an appointment with your dentist. Let Care Dental Center of Carson put your mind at ease with all your oral health concerns. 

Call Care Dental Center today at (310) 626-0004 to schedule an appointment!


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