We often hear the term gingivitis when discussing oral health, but many may not be aware of what gingivitis actually is. To put it simply, gingivitis is a term to describe inflammation of the gums. Our gums are the soft tissues that surround and help support our teeth; without healthy gums, we don’t have a healthy foundation for our teeth to live.
In most cases, gingivitis is caused by plaque biofilm, which is bacteria that is constantly forming in our mouths and adhering to our teeth and gums. It’s that sticky whitish-yellow stuff we use our toothbrushes (and floss) to remove.
An individual’s susceptibility and severity of gingivitis are also closely related to their immune system. Due to the nature of the bacteria in the plaque, when it is not properly removed from our gums, our body treats that bacteria as infection sending our immune system is to try and fight it. When that happens you’re likely to notice redness and swelling in the gums accompanied by potential tenderness and bleeding (especially after brushing). If you notice any bleeding this is likely a sign that you need to improve your plaque control.
Is it reversible?
The good news is YES, it is reversible! Remember that gingivitis is caused by plaque bacteria so the better you remove the plaque the healthier your gums will be. Following a good oral hygiene routine at home, you can help treat and prevent gingivitis.
- Brush your teeth twice a day (morning and night, spend a good 2 minutes each time)
- Floss at least once a day (if floss doesn’t work for you ask your dental hygienist what they recommend)
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash to help kill bacteria
- Go for routine professional dental cleanings and exams
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid smoking (for a strong immune system)
In some cases, gingivitis may be associated with a health condition, hormonal fluctuations or side effect of medications. Ask your health care professional if you have any concerns.
What happens if not treated?
If left untreated, gingivitis may actually progress to a more serious condition called periodontitis. This condition causes IRREVERSIBLE damage the bone that supports and surrounds our teeth and tooth loss is a common result of an excessive bone loss. For more details and information regarding Periodontitis, check out our upcoming blog on the topic.
Many of gingivitis cases go unnoticed and it’s easy to miss the signs and symptoms, especially in the early stages. So, it’s really important to schedule regular dental exams with your dentist and dental hygienist to help educate you on all your oral health needs and get you on the right track for optimum oral health. For more information, you could contact Davis Dental Care – Our Newmarket dentists are always happy to assist you!
Harris, N. O., García-Godoy, F., & Nathe, C. N. (2009). Primary Preventive Dentistry (Seventh ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson
Gehrig, J. S., & Willmann, D. E. (2011). Foundations of Periodontics for the dental hygienist (Third ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer