Do your gums bleed every time you floss your teeth? Does it look like your teeth have gotten a little bit longer? You could have gingivitis. Not worried? Well, you should be. Gingivitis is a dangerous disease, and if you don’t stop it in its tracks, it could cause permanent damage like tooth loss. Here’s what you need to know.
Ten Things You Need to Know About Gingivitis
- First Sign. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, also known as periodontitis. What starts out as inflammation can develop into an irreversible disease. If you have gingivitis, it’s very important to seek treatment before it can progress into the more advanced stages of periodontitis.
- Can Progress. Gingivitis is the only stage of gum disease that can be cured or reversed. It’s very important to treat gum disease while it’s still in its early stages because after it progresses, there’s no cure. Advanced periodontitis causes permanent damage and it can only be managed, not reversed.
- No Age Discrimination. Gingivitis can strike at any age. You don’t have to be middle-aged to get gingivitis. It can start when you’re in your 20s or even in your teens! You may have a higher risk if your family members also have gingivitis, if you’re pregnant, or if you smoke.
- Bad Habits. Gingivitis is usually caused by bad habits. Neglecting to brush and floss is the easiest way to get gingivitis. Plaque can form in as little as 24 hours, so daily care is essential! Skipping dentist appointments is another bad habit that leads to gingivitis—a professional cleaning from an oral hygienist removes plaque and tartar that brushing and flossing can’t reach.
- Common. Gingivitis is more common in smokers. People who smoke or vape tend to get gingivitis. Nicotine restricts blood flow to the gums and dries out your mouth, leaving you more vulnerable to gum disease.
- Tooth Loss. Gingivitis makes your gums pull away from your teeth. When your gums are inflamed, they start to pull away from the roots of your teeth. This exposes your tooth below the gum line, where it doesn’t have protective enamel, and makes your teeth vulnerable to decay. It also creates “pockets” between your teeth and gums where bacteria can linger and multiply.
- Infections. Gingivitis can lead to other infections. If bacteria from your gums get into your bloodstream, they can cause infections in other parts of your body. And, since bleeding gums is one of the most common symptoms of gingivitis, it’s pretty easy for bacteria to spread from your gums to your cardiovascular system.
- Bone Loss. Gingivitis can lead to bone loss as well as tooth loss. Gum infections can also spread to your teeth and jaw. If the bacteria make cavities, they can infect the pulp of your tooth and even infect the nerves inside. This is extremely painful and usually leads to a root canal or tooth extraction. And, if the root of the tooth gets infected, the bacteria can spread to your jaw, causing permanent bone loss and further tooth loss.
- Health Impacts. Gingivitis complicates other inflammatory conditions. People with inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis often struggle with gingivitis, too. Bacteria in your mouth can trigger arthritis—P. gingivalis, an oral microbe—has been linked to osteoarthritis.
- Preventable. Gingivitis can be prevented. This is the best fact about gingivitis! Daily brushing and flossing, using mouthwash, getting professional cleanings, and other periodontal treatments like laser therapy can slow the progress of gingivitis and even reverse some of its effects.
Periodontal Care in Lone Tree, Colorado
If you read all these ten facts, you might be thinking, when was my last exam and cleaning? Don’t put it off! Schedule an appointment at Lone Tree Modern Dental & Orthodontics.
We can help you fight gum disease and keep your mouth healthy. And if you already have gum disease, it’s not too late. We can help you prevent your condition from getting worse with our expert periodontal care. Contact us today to get started on the path to better oral health.