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Gingivitis: Symptoms and Causes in Gainesville, FL

If you notice that your gums look puffy and bleed when you brush your teeth, or your breath isn’t as fresh as it normally is, you may have gingivitis. Keep reading to learn more about the symptoms, what causes the gum disease and how you can treat it.

Gingivitis affects approximately 50 percent of adults in the United States according to a recent report by the World Dental Foundation. Gingivitis can progress without causing any pain, which is why it is essential to see a dentist regularly. He or she can catch gingivitis early, before it turns into periodontal disease.

What Are the Signs of Gum Disease?

Gingivitis is the earliest form of gum disease. It is often painless, so you must watch for these symptoms:

  • Gums which appear bright red instead of a healthy pink color
  • Swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
  • Puffy gums

If the gingivitis progresses to periodontal disease, you may notice:

  • Pain when you chew
  • Receding gums
  • Bad breath
  • New spaces between your teeth
  • Loose teeth

While gingivitis may never progress to periodontal disease, everyone who has periodontal disease first had gingivitis.

What Causes Gingivitis?

In most cases, poor oral hygiene causes gingivitis. When you don’t remove plaque thoroughly, it builds up at the gumline and between teeth. Eventually, it will harden into a substance called tartar, which looks yellow. Only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar, so it is important to get regular checkups and teeth cleanings. The plaque and tartar cause gum inflammation, or gingivitis.

Certain conditions put an individual at a higher risk for developing gingivitis:

  • Poor nutrition, especially a diet high in sugar and carbs
  • Dry mouth
  • Diseases that lower a person’s immunity
  • Changing hormones from pregnancy or menstruation
  • Certain medication
  • Smoking
  • A family history of gum disease
  • Crooked teeth, which are harder to keep clean

Is Gingivitis the Same as Periodontal Disease?

Gingivitis left untreated can lead to periodontitis. Gingivitis is simply gum inflammation, and it’s reversible. Periodontitis is not reversible, although you can keep it in check if you catch it early.

Gingivitis is stage one of gum disease. Stages two, three and four are early, moderate and severe periodontitis. If the disease advances to the severe stage, your teeth will become loose and it will hurt to chew. The term gum disease covers all the stages.

The CDC estimates that 47.2 percent of individuals age 30 and older have periodontal disease. The statistics are even more alarming for adults age 70 and over: more than 70 percent have periodontal disease.

Can Gum Disease Affect More Than My Teeth?

The first Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health in 2000 mentioned new research on the link between oral health and overall health. Periodontal disease can cause the loss of teeth, which is bad enough, but uncontrolled gum disease can also affect other parts of your body, including:

  • Heart Disease and Stroke: Your risk of a heart attack increases if the bacteria from gum disease enters your bloodstream, raising your chance of developing a blood clot. Harvard Health Publishing claims periodontal disease increases a person’s chance of having a serious cardiovascular event by two to three times.
  • High Blood Pressure: Periodontal disease interferes with treatment for hypertension. Additionally, people with healthy gums tend to have lower blood pressure than people with gum disease.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: If you’re diabetic, periodontal disease problems can lower your ability to control your blood sugar. The American Dental Association says having gum disease can also increase a woman’s chance of developing gestational diabetes.
  • Pregnancy: Active periodontal disease can make it more difficult to get pregnant and it can increase a woman’s chance of giving birth prematurely.
  • Pneumonia and Bronchitis: Periodontal disease is an infection. If your body is busy fighting the infection, it can’t devote its full resources to fighting respiratory infections. Additionally, you can inhale bacteria from gum disease into your lungs, causing pneumonia, emphysema and bronchitis. The inflammation from gum disease may worsen these diseases if you already have one of them.
  • Men’s Health: Men who have periodontal disease and an inflamed prostate have higher levels of prostate inflammation than men who do not have periodontal disease, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. Men who have periodontal disease also have a greater risk of impotence. Men have a higher rate of gum disease than women, although there is no specific reason for this except women tend to visit dentists more than men.
  • Memory: People with gingivitis do not do as well as people without gingivitis on memory tests, according to the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.
  • Lupus: The Lupus Foundation of America says lupus can be worse in patients who have oral health problems, such as gum disease.

While harmful bacteria, which can travel from the mouth into the lungs and bloodstream, is responsible for one of the connections between gum disease and other conditions, inflammation is another reason gum disease can adversely affect your overall health.

What Type of Treatment Is Best for Gum Disease?

Your dentist can help you successfully reverse gingivitis with a professional teeth cleaning. You’ll must follow up the cleaning with diligent dental hygiene at home. The dentist or hygienist will point out the areas that need more attention. Following their suggestions and getting a professional cleaning every six months will help to prevent gingivitis from returning.

If you have chronic periodontal disease, treatment is more aggressive. Your dentist may suggest a deep cleaning, called a scaling and root planing procedure, to remove bacteria in the pockets that have formed between the teeth and gums. It does not hurt, as your dentist will numb your gums, but you may feel discomfort for a day or two afterward as your gums heal. Depending on the stage of your disease, there are surgical procedures to treat the disease.

Remember, you could also have early gum disease and not even know it, so it is essential to have regular check-ups. Our skilled dental team has a lot of experience treating gingivitis and periodontal disease. Call us or make an appointment online so we can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy.

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