You’re brushing your teeth and they start to bleed. You floss and they ache. Red, swollen, and squishy. These are signs you could have gingivitis.
What is Gingivitis?
When it first starts, you may not even notice it. The gums become red and painfully swollen. Eventually, it causes bleeding when you floss or even brush your teeth. It can also cause sleepless nights with an aching mouth. Gingivitis is an inflammation of tissues around the teeth (also known as your gums or gingiva).
What causes gingivitis then?
Bacteria build up around your gum line, causing a sticky plaque to form on your teeth. When not removed, it hardens into tartar which in turn irritates the gums, causing them to inflame. This is why adequate brushing and flossing is required!
Regular smokers get gingivitis more often than non-smokers. Smoking introduces harmful substances from cigarettes (or chewing tobacco), such as nicotine and tar. These can cause gum problems, halitosis, oral thrush, cancers, dental caries or tooth decay, teeth stains, etc. Nicotine also interferes with how our body responds to bacteria as it impairs the leukocyte functions.
Medications may also lead to gingivitis. Drugs like anticonvulsants, calcium channel blockers, and immunosuppressants can cause gingival overgrowth. Make sure that the next time you visit your dentist, you mention ALL medications and supplements you are (or were) taking.
Pregnancy is another possible cause. As stated by PubMed.gov, ovarian hormones such as estrogen and progesterone rise at this stage causing pregnant women to be more likely to experience gingivitis. It is said that gingivitis generally occurs in 60-75% of pregnant women, but if they practice good oral hygiene at the beginning of pregnancy, the rate will only be 0.3%.
Hormone changes during puberty, menopause, and the menstrual cycle can also cause sensitivity in the gingiva.
Nutritional Deficiency is also included in the list of possible causes. Lack of good nutrition can affect one’s health causing various health problems including gingivitis. Vitamin C deficiency (in extreme cases it can progress to scurvy!!) is linked to gum disease.
Diabetics, because they have high levels of blood glucose, can take significantly longer for gingivitis to heal. If you’re diabetic and you accidentally brushed your teeth hard, you could cause your gums to become inflamed or swollen. This is because decreased blood circulation makes it hard for the body to repair wounds. If you are diabetic and suspect gingivitis, you should seek medical assistance right away.
How to know if you have gingivitis?
These are the symptoms of gingivitis that will help you know if you have one:
- Halitosis or Bad Breath
- Swollen and Red Gums
- Frequent Gum Bleeding
- A general feeling of being unwell
- Bleeding when Brushing Teeth
- Receding Gums
- Fever (Early Stage)
How to treat gingivitis?
- An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Always make to brush your teeth at least twice a day, in the morning and at night. Be smart in choosing toothbrushes as their textures could differ.
- Using a soft-bristled toothbrush is highly recommended. Use gentle circles so as to not irritate the swollen gums and cause bleeding.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 months.
- Flossing is also a good way to deep clean your teeth and gum line.
- If you smoke, stop. This is very important advice for all smokers, your oral health is not just in danger, you are prone to lung cancer and other health risks.
One of the easiest things to help ensure good health is to practice good oral hygiene
Visit your dentist every 6 – 9 months. If you are at risk of gingivitis, it may be recommended that you come more often.
If you have any of the symptoms listed above or feel like something is wrong, come in and see us. A check-up and cleaning may be all it takes but we’ll be able to put you on the path to proper oral care.