What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is also commonly referred to as “gum disease”, although gum disease is a much more general term that covers any disease affecting the gums, included but not limited to gingivitis.
Gingivitis is the name given to the irritation, inflammation and redness of your gums, which might also cause sensitivity and unease when eating or drinking. This condition is caused by bacteria that accumulated in your mouth, so in most cases a poor oral care is the source of the issue. This does not necessarily mean that you are careless about your oral health. Sometimes your defenses might be lower than usual due to something as simple as cold and that’s when the bacteria in your plaque will take advantage and start building up.
Although gingivitis itself is just a mild disease it is important to treat it properly as it might lead to more serious conditions such as periodontitis which might even lead to tooth lose. Gingivitis is a 100% reversible condition and in most cases everything you’ll need to do is get a professional mouth cleaning and then pay a bit more attention to your oral health habits from then on, brushing properly at least twice a day, flossing regularly and getting checked by a dentist once a year to make sure everything is going well.
Signs & Symptoms
Checking yourself up in the mirror regularly is a great habit to have as it will allow you to detect, cavities and other potential serious health issues early on and treat them before they develop any further.
If while performing these routine self-checkups you see your gums have a reddish color (as opposed to a healthy pink one), that might be a sign of early gingivitis. If you feel like your gums are irritated, even if they don’t hurt, you might also have a nearly case of gingivitis. In these cases there is probably food between your gums and your teeth which are causing them to irritate and might lead to an infection.
Another sign could be that your gums have actually pulled away slightly from your teeth, reveling the dentine layer which does not have the characteristic shine of the enamel. If your dentine is exposed you might also be experiencing sensitivity while, eating, drinking, or brushing, as that tissue is not meant to be exposed and therefore does not have the appropriate protection. After a few days though your dentine will lose its sensitivity and you might feel like the issue was just temporary and now everything is back to normal. It is important to check that you can actually see the same shiny enamel layer all the way until your teeth is covered by your gums, otherwise you might be failing to treat an early case of gingivitis which might develop into a much more serious peritonitis.
If you spit some blood when brushing your teeth this can also be a sing of an early case of gingivitis.
Bad breath can also be a sing of gingivitis. When your gums aren’t in good shape they might allow tiny pieces of food to stay between your gums and your teeth. These can not only lead to an infection but those food particles will decompose giving you bad breath or a bad mouth taste.
If you think you might be suffering from gingivitis after detecting one of the above signs it is always a good idea to visit your dentist to make sure your diagnose is correct and that there is nothing else hidden that you might have missed.
The best treatment for gingivitis is obviously prevention. Keeping a good oral health, brushing and flossing regularly will drastically reduce your chances of ever experiencing gingivitis.
Now if you are already suffering from gingivitis the first thing you need to do is visit your dentist. In most cases your dentist will perform an in-house mouth cleaning to remove the plaque and tartar accumulated around your gums and instruct you on how to consistently maintain the plaque from building up again moving further.
These instructions will include brushing regularly and properly at least twice a day, or even better after every meal. It will also include flossing at least once per day. On top of these your dentist might suggest that you use mouthwash, a tong brush and cleaner and an oral irrigator to help you keep the bacterial that causes gingivitis controlled.