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You probably know gingivitis as it is commonly known: gum disease. Here, we’ll explain what gingivitis is, what the symptoms of gingivitis are, what causes gingivitis, why gingivitis is a risk to your oral health, and how you can prevent gingivitis.

woman holding her lower lip and jaw wondering if she has gingivitis

What Is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums and the first stage of gum disease. It is the most mild form of gum disease and is easy to detect based on its symptoms. Gingivitis occurs when plaque, the sticky, clear biofilm of bacteria, forms on your teeth and gums and is not removed daily through good oral health practices like brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using fluoride toothpaste.

What Are the Symptoms of Gingivitis?

Detecting gingivitis is relatively easy to do because the symptoms are almost all things that you can see. For example, one of the most common symptoms is that your gums are swollen, puffy, red, and tender so much so that they bleed when you brush your teeth. Gums suffering from gingivitis can also recede or pull away from your teeth so that your teeth look longer than normal. Because gingivitis causes your gums to recede, pockets form between the teeth and gums and food particles and plaque often collect in these pockets, leading to bad breath and even tooth decay.

What Causes Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is most commonly caused by poor oral hygiene. By not practicing good oral health habits like brushing, flossing, and using fluoride, plaque, that sticky biofilm, continues to build up on your teeth because it’s not being brushed or washed away. Some other reasons that you may develop gingivitis, or some other causes that may worsen your gingivitis, include poor nutrition, dry mouth, smoking, old age, certain medications, hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and menstruation, and even genetics.

What Are the Risks Associated With Gingivitis?

If gingivitis is left untreated, it can turn into periodontitis, the more serious type of gum disease. What causes periodontitis is when plaque keeps forming on your teeth and gums and eventually hardens into tartar, which is much more difficult to remove and creates a protective barrier for bacteria. Tartar can only be removed with professional cleaning. If left untreated, periodontitis could damage the gum tissue, destroy the bones that support your teeth, and even lead to tooth loss.

How Can I Prevent Gingivitis?

The good news is that gingivitis is incredibly easy to prevent. Good oral hygiene is the best and most effective way to combat gingivitis so be sure you are brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and using fluoride toothpaste. If you are a smoker you need to give up that bad habit to cure gingivitis and if you eat unhealthy foods like those high in starch and sugar, you need to switch to a healthy diet high in fibrous fruits and vegetables.

Coming in for regular checkups and cleanings is also vital to preventing gingivitis so contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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