Are your gums red or inflamed, or do they bleed easily when brushing your teeth? These are common signs of gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. While these symptoms may not cause you any serious discomfort, they are an indication that you are at risk of gingivitis developing into gum disease, which can be far more uncomfortable and may even pose a risk to your health.
Staying on top of your gum health is fairly simple but also critical to protecting both your oral and overall health. Learn more about the risk of gingivitis and how you can both prevent and treat it.
What Is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease, otherwise known as gum disease or periodontitis. It’s caused by a buildup of bacteria-filled plaque and tartar in the mouth infecting the gum tissue.
The number of adults in the United States who suffer from some form of gum disease is staggering, with some estimates totaling up to around 46% of people 30 or older.1 That number grows with age as well, which means that preventing gingivitis only becomes more important over time.
Signs of Gingivitis
As plaque and tartar build up in your mouth and infection begins to occur, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Gums that bleed easily when brushing or flossing
- Inflammation or redness in the gum tissue
- Sore gums
- Bad breath (halitosis)
Your gums should not bleed during your regular oral hygiene routine. There’s a chance that you’re simply brushing too hard, but if you’re not, odds are you are developing gingivitis, and you should reach out to a dentist to schedule an appointment.
The Risks Associated with Untreated Gingivitis
Sometimes, the symptoms of gingivitis aren’t overly unpleasant or difficult to deal with on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them altogether. Gingivitis is only the beginning of gum disease, and symptoms can worsen over time.
Once gingivitis has progressed into gum disease, you may begin to experience receding gums, tooth sensitivity, painful chewing, and more. Untreated gum disease can progress into advanced gum disease, which may result in shifting teeth, dental abscesses, loose teeth, and tooth loss.
Gum disease can have a big impact on your overall health. Advanced gum disease has been connected to a variety of serious medical conditions, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and more.
The bacteria that cause gum disease will continue to grow in your mouth if you don’t take the necessary precautions or seek treatment through periodontal therapy. Eventually, that bacteria can travel through the bloodstream into your body and cause other significant health complications.
Preventing the Risk of Gingivitis
If you’re not currently experiencing any symptoms of gingivitis, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the risks associated with it. Taking care to prevent gingivitis is the best route to take if you want to protect your oral and overall health. Preventing gingivitis can be as simple as taking the following precautions:
Brush and Floss Twice a Day
Brushing your teeth regularly can do a lot more than just prevent gingivitis, and you should be doing it twice a day, every day. Brush in small circles to dislodge any plaque-causing food debris, and make sure to brush for at least four minutes at a time.
Your toothbrush can only access so much of your mouth, and there’s plenty of food debris and plaque that need to be removed from between your teeth and below your gum line. To reach those areas, you need to floss, and you should be flossing twice every day. There are different kinds of tools to help you clean between your teeth: dental floss, dental picks, and specialized tiny brushes. If you are not sure what to use, be sure to ask your hygienist what’s best for you.
Eat a Healthy Diet
The bacteria in your mouth love sugar, and when you eat a lot of it, plaque will form at a faster rate. You don’t need to avoid sugar altogether, but moderating it is crucial if you want to avoid gingivitis. If you have a sweet treat, be sure to brush and floss your teeth as soon as you can to get rid of as much bacteria as possible.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
All the brushing and flossing in the world is not enough to clear your mouth of all the plaque, and tartar can only be removed by special dental tools. For these reasons, you need to see your dentist at least twice a year for professional cleaning to avoid gingivitis.
Reducing the Risk of Gingivitis with Albion Family Dental
Gingivitis is common, but that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. With the right at-home dental routine and regularly scheduled preventative dental appointments, you can help reduce the risks associated with gum disease. The professionals of Albion Family Dental are committed to serving individuals and families in and around Albion, NY. Contact us to schedule your appointment. 585-589-9044