Gingivitis: Causes, Symptoms, and How To Treat It

Gingivitis: Causes, Symptoms, and How To Treat It

Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease caused by inflammation of the gums. Left untreated, it can lead to periodontal disease, a more severe form of gum disease that can eventually cause tooth loss. While it can cause discomfort, it is not usually a serious condition and can be treated with proper dental care. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for gingivitis so you can take steps to protect your oral health.

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused by plaque buildup on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film composed of bacteria, food particles, and saliva that accumulates on the surfaces of the teeth. When not removed regularly through brushing and flossing, plaque can irritate and inflame the gums, causing them to become red, swollen, and bleed easily.

What Causes Gingivitis?

1. Inadequate Oral Hygiene Practices

Without regular brushing and flossing, plaque accumulates on the teeth and irritates the gums, leading to inflammation. Poor diet and lifestyle choices can also contribute to an increased risk of gingivitis. Smoking, for example, weakens the immune system and increases inflammation in the mouth, making it more likely for plaque to accumulate and cause gingivitis.

2. Medical Conditions

Certain health conditions can also increase the risk of developing gingivitis. Diabetes is one example, as it can cause blood sugar levels to remain high, leading to increased bacterial growth in the mouth. Additionally, people with HIV/AIDS and those taking certain medications may be more likely to experience gingivitis due to weakened immune systems or dry mouth.

3. Pregnancy

Pregnancy can also increase the risk of gingivitis due to hormonal changes that cause the gums to become more sensitive and susceptible to inflammation. During pregnancy, women are more prone to developing an increased amount of plaque, which can lead to redness, swelling, and bleeding. It’s important for pregnant women to practice good oral hygiene habits and visit their dentist regularly to prevent the onset of gingivitis.

Symptoms of Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a common condition and it’s important to be aware of the symptoms so you can address it quickly. The most common signs of gingivitis include:

  • Red, swollen gums that are tender and may bleed easily when brushing or flossing.
  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.
  • Receding gums, which can cause teeth to appear longer than normal.
  • Loose teeth, which are caused by the weakening of the periodontal ligaments and bone structures.

While these mild symptoms may not be painful, it’s important to see your dentist if you experience any of them so they can diagnose and treat the condition.

How To Treat Gingivitis

1. Scaling and Root Planing

During this procedure, your dentist will use special instruments to remove plaque and calculus (hardened plaque) from below the gum line. This helps reduce gum inflammation and allows the gums to heal and reattach to the teeth. The dentist may also smooth out any rough spots on the tooth surface, known as “ root planing”, which helps prevent bacteria from re-accumulating.

2. Good Oral Hygiene Practices

Daily brushing and flossing are essential for preventing gingivitis. Make sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day, as well as floss at least once a day to remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and gum line. It’s also important to use an antibacterial mouthwash to kill bacteria that can cause gum disease.

3. Medications

In some cases, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help reduce gingival inflammation and bacterial levels in the mouth. This may be done in addition to scaling and root planing or as a stand-alone treatment for more severe cases of gingivitis.

4. Mouth Rinses

Mouth rinses are available over the counter or by prescription, and contain ingredients such as chlorhexidine, hydrogen peroxide, or herbal extracts that help reduce the bacteria in the mouth that can lead to plaque buildup. 

Commonly Asked Questions

How do you get gingivitis to go away?

Gingivitis can be treated with a combination of good dental hygiene practices and regular dental visits. To get gingivitis to go away, it is important to brush and floss your teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Additionally, visiting your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings can help remove plaque and tartar buildup that can lead to gingivitis.

Can gingivitis turn into periodontitis?

Yes, if gingivitis is left untreated it can progress to a more serious condition known as periodontitis. Periodontitis is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth and can lead to gum recession, bone loss, and even tooth loss if not treated promptly.

Can gingivitis cure itself?

No, gingivitis cannot cure itself and it is important to seek treatment from a dentist in order to prevent the condition from progressing into a more serious form of gum disease. Despite this, there are steps that can be taken at home to help protect your gums. 

How long does gingivitis last?

Gingivitis is a reversible condition if treated promptly. With good oral hygiene habits and regular visits to a dental professional, the inflammation can typically be resolved in 1-2 weeks. 

Contact Us for Professional Dental Care

Gum disease can have serious consequences if not treated promptly so it’s important to stay on top of your oral health by practicing good hygiene habits regularly and visiting your dentist twice a year for checkups and professional cleanings. Although it can sometimes seem like just another chore added onto our already busy lives, taking care of our mouths now will prevent us from having major problems down the line.

At Atglen Family Dentistry, we understand how important your oral health is and strive to provide the highest quality of care in a welcoming and comfortable environment. Contact us today to learn more about our services and schedule an appointment.

Implant Dentistry Lancaster County | Dentures In Lancaster County PA | Atglen Family Dentistry
Dr. Onyinye Myers has a passion for a natural approach to dental care. As a practicing dentist since 2009, it always comes back to Prevention.

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