Prior to the onset of gum disease, many people develop gingivitis. First, let’s clarify the difference between periodontal disease and gingivitis. Periodontal disease, which encompasses gingivitis, is an infection that causes inflammation and destruction of tissues in the mouth. These tissues play a critical role in supporting your teeth, gums, ligaments, and alveolar bone. Gingivitis stems from buildup of plaque on your teeth. Bacteria and food particles comprise plaque, a sticky substance that accumulates on your teeth unless removed by regular brushing and flossing. Without intervention, plaque hardens into tartar, which forms near the base of your teeth. Tartar serves as a constant irritant to your sensitive gums, which become more prone to infection, swelling, and tenderness.
What Are the Most Common Risk Factors for Gingivitis?
Although poor dental hygiene contributes to gingivitis, you have less control over certain risk factors. For example, we see many patients whose gingivitis can be traced to changes in hormone levels, such as those seen in pregnancy or menopause. It may also occur during puberty or throughout early adulthood. Poorly managed diabetes also increases the threat of gingivitis, as do certain medications, such as those prescribed for seizures, contraception, and gastrointestinal disorders. In other patients, we see structural irregularities that exacerbate the problem. These include poorly aligned teeth, fillings with uneven edges, and dentures, crowns, or braces that fit improperly or are not well-maintained.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Gingivitis?
Not all patients with gingivitis present with the same symptoms, and some exhibit only one or two symptoms. These include:
- Gums that bleed during brushing, even with gentle pressure
- A reddish or reddish-purple color
- Slight tenderness on contact, but no discomfort otherwise
- Swelling or a shiny appearance
If a dental hygienist detects symptoms of gingivitis, or if they are considered high-risk for gum disease, further action may be required. For example, you may need to have professional dental cleanings more than twice yearly. If your condition worsens, your dentist will likely refer you to periodontal specialists. Many patients see noticeable lessening of bleeding and soreness within one or two weeks of professional dental cleaning and periodontal treatment.
You have many tools available to arrest the development of gingivitis and reverse its harmful effects. In addition to twice-daily brushing and flossing, your gums could benefit from antibacterial mouth rinses or oral antibiotics. We often recommend water picks and electric flossers, which help to remove more food and bacteria from the mouth, preventing plaque formation. Other patients benefit from special toothpastes with anti-plaque or anti-tartar formulations.
Concerns about gingivitis? With years of hands-on experience and focused training in surgical and non-surgical approaches to periodontal care, We provide exceptional care that places patient comfort first. We are passionate about periodontal health, and we will take the time to get to know you and discuss your condition and treatment options in detail. Contact our Lafayette, LA office at (337) 989-0267 or our Opelousas, LA satellite office at (800) 821-6503. We proudly serve patients throughout Acadiana.