Many people have heard of gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease that is not uncommon. However, they might wonder: What does gingivitis look like? The good news is that the signs of gingivitis can be easily seen. The bad news is that if it isn’t treated promptly, it can lead to serious gum disease — also called periodontal disease. Gum disease that is not treated can lead to tooth loss.
What Does Gingivitis Look Like?
Healthy gums are pale pink and firmly fit around the teeth. When gingivitis is present, there are signs and symptoms to look for, such as:
- Gums that look inflamed and puffy.
- Noticeable blood in the sink after you brush or floss.
- Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth that won’t go away.
- Gums that are pulling away from the teeth (also called receding gums).
- Any changes in your teeth when you bite down.
- Any change in the way dentures fit.
If gingivitis is left untreated, more serious symptoms of gum disease might start to appear. Some of these include teeth that are overly sensitive or loose-feeling.
What Causes Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is caused when plaque builds up on teeth. Plaque is a sticky substance that contains bacteria and builds up on your teeth and gums. When it isn’t removed, it can irritate the gums and cause them to become red and inflamed. As gums become more irritated, they might even start to bleed. If you notice blood in the sink while brushing, you probably have bleeding gums. This could point to the early stages of gum disease. The following factors can also increase the risk of gingivitis.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Most people are good about brushing their teeth at least once a day, but many people rarely — if ever — floss. Regular brushing and flossing are the surest ways to keep plaque at bay. It’s also essential to get professional teeth cleanings. Even the most diligent brusher and flosser won’t be able to remove all plaque, and what is left behind will harden. The only way to remove this substance — called tartar — is with professional dental instruments.
Using tobacco products is not only bad for your overall health, but it is one of the biggest risk factors when it comes to gum disease. Smokers and tobacco users who develop gum disease tend to be less successful when they receive treatment. People who smoke are far more likely to suffer from gum disease than people who don’t smoke.
Hormonal changes can also put your gum health at risk. It’s essential to be particularly diligent about caring for your gums during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause to prevent gum disease.
Eating a healthy diet is good for your overall well-being as well as your gum health. A poor diet usually means the body is not getting the nutrients it needs — making it difficult to fight off infection including gum disease.
Sometimes the medications you take could be putting your oral health at risk. Be sure to let your dentist know if you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications.
Chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, HIV and others can have a negative impact on the body’s ability to fight infection including gingivitis. Make sure you inform your dentist if you suffer from any chronic conditions.
How Common Is Gum Disease?
It’s a lot more common than people think. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of adults over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease. More women than men tend to develop gum disease. Smokers are more vulnerable to developing gum disease than nonsmokers.
How Is Gingivitis Treated?
Gingivitis can be controlled and treated with good oral hygiene and routine professional cleaning. More severe forms of periodontal disease can usually be treated successfully, but treatment will likely be more extensive. Periodontal treatment might include a deep cleaning of the tooth-root surfaces below the gums and medications taken to help with the infection. Advanced cases of periodontal disease might require surgical intervention.
Additional Questions About Gingivitis
Is Gingivitis Reversible?
Gingivitis can be managed and even reversed, especially with the help of a dentist. If left untreated, the condition can lead to periodontitis — a more severe type of gum disease.
Can I Treat Gingivitis on My Own?
As with most dental conditions, prevention is key. You can help to prevent gingivitis by taking good care of your oral health. Establish solid oral care routines for morning and night — and follow them religiously. Brush at least twice a day and floss once to help keep gums healthy.
Other preventive care includes regular visits to the dentist for examinations and cleanings. By the time you start to see what gingivitis looks like, you probably have already developed the disease. So if you start to notice changes in your gums, it’s best to go to your dentist for treatment.
What If I Wait Too Long to Get Treatment for Gingivitis?
Gum disease that is left untreated is likely going to get worse. So, it isn’t a good idea to put off getting treatment. Chances are, your gum disease will get worse, leading to more problems including tooth loss.
If you’re concerned about the health of your gums, don’t put off a trip to the dentist. Book an appointment at one of our several West Coast Dental locations. We have an available dentist in Covina, Lynwood, Pomona, Valencia, Lancaster, Van Nuys, Menifee, etc.. Call us today!
The good news is, there are affordable payment options available to help you spread the cost and make it more manageable. Book an appointment today with our orthodontist. They can advise on the best treatment plan and help you get the healthy smile you deserve!
Here at West Coast Dental, our friendly staff are always here to help with over 40 locations. If you’re searching for a dentist in Moreno Valley, Hawthorne, Menifee, Lancaster or other cities, we’ve got you covered!
Mayo Clinic — Gingivitis
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Periodontal Disease
WebMD — Treatments for Gum Disease
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Smoking, Gum Disease and Tooth Loss