Getting a little bit of red in your sink after you brush your teeth can be worrisome – are you brushing too hard, is your toothbrush too stiff, or could it be the sign of something worse? You never want to hear the word ‘gingivitis’ come out of your dentist’s mouth after a checkup, but how exactly do you get gingivitis, how do you get rid of it, and what even is it?
In order to take proper care of your teeth, you need to know exactly what the potential problems could be and how to prevent them. Here’s our guide to gingivitis, how you get it, and how you can deal with it.
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums. It’s the non-destructive form of periodontal disease, when the tissues that hold your teeth in place become infected, though gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease if left untreated. If you ignore your gingivitis and let it progress into periodontal disease, you could lose teeth and gum tissue and could require significant restorative dental work to reverse the effects.
The general signs of gingivitis tend to be red, swollen gums that bleed when you brush your teeth, but here is a more comprehensive list of symptoms:
- Bright red gums
- Tender or painful gums
- Bleeding during or after brushing or flossing
- Bad breath
- Swollen, inflamed gums
- Soft gums
- Receding gums.
How Do You Get Gingivitis?
The most common cause of gingivitis is plaque accumulating on your teeth and gums. When you eat but don’t brush your teeth afterward, tiny particles of food will remain lodged between your teeth and gums. If you don’t remove them by brushing, the particles combine with saliva to create the sticky white plaque.
In addition to smelling terrible and giving you bad breath, dental plaque is a biofilm filled with bacteria that contribute to gum disease and tooth decay. In response to help fight this bacteria, your gums become swollen and inflamed.
Most gingivitis is caused by bad oral hygiene – in other words, not taking very good care of your teeth. Brushing and flossing regularly will help keep plaque from developing on your teeth and gums. However, even if you’re an excellent and consistent brusher/flosser, you may still be at risk of developing gingivitis. Such risks are:
- Family history and genetics – if your parents are prone to gingivitis, you likely will be as well.
- Diet – if you aren’t getting enough vitamin C, you’re at risk.
- Smoking – Smoking tobacco increases your risk of gingivitis.
- Age – the older you become, the higher your risk is.
- Certain diseases such as diabetes or cancer
- Medication – some medications can increase your risk, ask your dentist if you’re worried that one of your medications could cause gingivitis.
- Hormonal changes – pregnancy, puberty, and menopause can make you more susceptible to gingivitis.
What Should I Do About Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is best treated by prevention first – practicing good oral hygiene will help reduce your risk of infection and keep you out of the doctor’s chair. Brushing twice a day, using an electric toothbrush, flossing at least once a day, and using antiseptic mouthwash will do a lot to combat gingivitis.
What happens if you’ve already gotten gingivitis? It’s best to visit your dentist to get properly diagnosed and they’ll advise treatment based on their assessment and how severe your case is. You will likely need a professional cleaning done to properly remove any plaque or tartar buildup lingering on your teeth and gums. Additionally, you’ll be advised to keep up good oral hygiene after your cleaning – the best offense for gingivitis is a good defensive home cleaning regimen.
Contact Cary and Holly Springs Dentists Sninski & Schmitt
Contact your Cary dentists at Sninski & Schmitt with any questions or concerns you may still have about gingivitis. If you would like to learn more you can call us at 919-600-6262 (Holly Springs), 919-467-2203 (Cary), or fill out the form below.