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Posted on: July 22, 2020
Gingivitis: Symptoms and Causes in Suwanee, GA
The early signs of gingivitis are easy to miss. If you see blood after brushing your teeth, you might think you brushed too hard near your gums. This could happen once or twice, but shouldn’t be a daily occurrence.
Gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease, is very common. Catching it early is important because treatment will cure it. If left unchecked, it may progress to periodontal disease, a severe and destructive form of gum disease. The National Institutes of Health says that periodontal disease is the “inflammation and infection that destroys the tissues that support the teeth, including the gums, the periodontal ligaments, and the tooth sockets.” The CDC estimates that nearly half of American adults aged 30 or older have gum disease in some form.
What Gingivitis Symptoms Should I Look For?
Gingivitis is easy to spot if you know what to look for, such as:
- Red, swollen gums
- Puffy gums
- Bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth or eat hard food
- Tender gums
If you have a more advanced form of gum disease, you may notice:
- A bad taste in your mouth
- Gums that are separating from your teeth
- Receding gums, which cause your teeth to appear longer
- A change in your bite
- Teeth that are developing gaps
- Loose teeth
How Do People Develop Gingivitis?
We all get plaque on our teeth. It is the sticky substance that is filled with bacteria, which builds up on our teeth. It accumulates along the gumline and between teeth when we don’t brush and floss as recommended by the American Dental Association. The plaque will eventually harden to form tartar. The bacteria in plaque and tartar will cause gingivitis.
Risk factors for developing gingivitis include:
- Smoking or other tobacco use
- Broken teeth or restorations
- Certain medications
- Improperly fitting dentures
- Pregnancy and menopause
- Poor oral hygiene
- Advancing age
- Poorly fitting dentures
If you do not seek gingivitis treatment, the bacteria can travel beneath your gums, damaging your tooth’s support structure. When this happens, you have developed periodontal disease. Left untreated, periodontal disease can cause tooth loss and negatively affect your overall health.
Is Gum Disease Associated with Other Systemic Diseases?
Ongoing research is linking gum disease to many other diseases in different parts of the body, including:
- Diabetes: Periodontal disease makes it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar. It also raises blood sugar in people who do not have diabetes.
- Heart Disease: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for American adults. Periodontal disease can increase a person’s risk of having a heart attack and can also worsen existing heart conditions.
- Cancers: Having gum disease may increase a man’s chances of developing pancreatic cancer by more than 50 percent and kidney cancer by 49 percent. Men have higher rates of gum disease than women, making these statistics particularly troubling.
- Stroke: According to the American Heart Association, chronic infectious diseases such as periodontal disease may increase a person’s risk of having a stroke. Patients with severe periodontitis have a four-times-higher chance of developing a blockage in an artery that delivers blood to the brain.
- Babies: Gum disease is associated with premature babies with low birth weights. Studies suggest that the bacteria which lead to gum inflammation can enter the bloodstream and cause premature labor.
- Respiratory Diseases: You can inhale the bacteria present in lung disease into the lungs and develop pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
We’ve known about these disease connections for a long time. The 2000 Surgeon General’s report, Oral Health in America, stated that untreated oral health issues are “promoting the onset of life-threatening diseases which are responsible for the deaths of millions of Americans each year.”
How Is Gingivitis Treated?
If you have gingivitis, do not worry. The treatment is simple; you come in for an exam, get a diagnosis, have a professional teeth cleaning, and improve your brushing and flossing habits. Your dentist may suggest products for you to use, like an electric toothbrush, to make your oral care routine more effective. A professional teeth cleaning is usually enough to restore gingival (gum) health, and better oral care can keep gingivitis from returning. Lifestyle changes, such as quitting tobacco use and eating less sugar will help to prevent a recurrence. Smoking increases your chances of treatment not being successful.
Fortunately, gingivitis is reversible. Treatment will stop the plaque from getting underneath your gums, preventing the disease from progressing. If you already have periodontal disease, your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning, which goes beyond a regular professional teeth cleaning as the dentist or dental hygienist removes the plaque that is under your gums. A deep cleaning is required to get rid of bacteria from the pockets between the teeth and gums. Our dental team can do a deep cleaning in one or two visits.
Good at-home oral hygiene is an important part of periodontal disease treatment and prevention; however, surgery may be necessary if you have severe disease. Surgery can eliminate the infection, close spaces between your teeth and replace bone lost to the disease. There also are procedures for helping to regrow connective tissue and graft tissue to areas where you have lost gum tissue. You can help to avoid needing extensive surgery by seeking treatment as soon as you notice any of the signs of gum disease.
Contact us for a gingivitis assessment and treatment. If our dentist feels you’re prone to develop gingivitis because of risk factors you have, he or she may want to see you more frequently than every six months.