Gums that are pink in color and do not bleed when brushing or flossing are considered by dentists as healthy. If your gums feel swollen, are colored red, and bleed whenever you brush and floss, it is best to consult your dentist immediately since you may already have gingivitis.
Gingivitis refers to the inflammation of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. It is the initial stage of gum disease and the easiest to treat.
Causes, Signs and Symptoms
How does gingivitis develop? The development of this gum disease is typically attributed to poor dental hygiene.
The primary cause of gingivitis is plaque, a colorless biofilm of bacteria that is commonly found on one’s teeth and gums. Proper and regular brushing and flossing can remove plaque, but failure to practice good dental care habits means the bacteria remains on your teeth. This biofilm soon produces toxins which irritate the gum tissue, causing gingivitis. During this stage, damage can still be reversed because the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place are not yet affected. Untreated gingivitis, however, can become periodontitis and cause permanent damage to a person’s teeth and jaw.
Aside from poor dental hygiene, the following can also cause gingivitis:
- Persons with crooked, rotated, or overlapping teeth are more prone to developing gingivitis since they are harder to keep clean; consequently, there will be more areas for plaque and calculus to accumulate.
- Poor immune system. Gingivitis is also a body’s inflammatory system’s response to bacteria in an area of the mouth where it should not be. Alcohol, smoking and chewing tobacco, and stress affect a person’s oral defense mechanisms and prevent the gum tissue from being able to heal. Persons suffering from cancer and undergoing cancer treatment are also more susceptible to infection and increase the risk of gum disease.
- Poor nutrition. Persons who consume high amounts of sugar and carbohydrates with low water intake are prone to developing plaque and possible gum disease. This will increase the formation of plaque. Deficiency in certain important nutrients such as vitamin C will impair gum repair.
- Diabetes mellitus. This disease will also impair circulation and the gums’ ability to heal.
- Hormonal changes. Hormonal changes that occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause also typically correlate with a rise in gingivitis. This hormonal imbalance can cause the blood vessels in the gums to become more susceptible to a bacterial and chemical attack.
The usual signs and symptoms that a person has gingivitis include:
Bleeding gums when brushing and flossing
Red or purple colored gums
Tender and swollen gums
Receding gums or the appearance that they have been pulled away from the teeth, giving the teeth an elongated look.
Advanced gum disease can cause pockets to form between the teeth and gums which can collect plaque and food debris. Because of this, some people may experience recurring bad breath or a bad taste in their mouth.
Brushing properly at least twice a day and flossing once will help you get rid of plaque. Gargling with mouthwash can help as well. Your dental (and overall) health will also improve if you start eating a balanced diet and avoid smoking or tobacco.
Regular dental checkups can also help you detect and avoid the onset of any gum disease. If you’re in Maryland, you can consult the dental professionals of Nicholas Dental Care.