Gingivitis is an infection that affects the gums, causing swelling, bleeding, pain, and sensitivity in the mouth. It is a common condition among both adults and children. Like other common dental problems, gingivitis can usually be avoided with the help of an appropriate dental hygiene program. Untreated, it can lead to serious infections of the teeth and gums.
Causes of Gingivitis
Like dental cavities, gingivitis is caused by bacterial deposits known as plaque. These bacteria feed on leftover sugars and other carbohydrates in the mouth. Without proper dental hygiene, plaque builds up along the tooth and gums over time, eventually causing infections that break down the teeth and irritate the gums.
Symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Gums that bleed easily, especially when brushing or flossing
- Gums that are visibly swollen, discolored, or shiny
- Chronic bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Recession of the gums
Professional dental cleaning: In most cases, the best treatment for gingivitis is a thorough dental cleaning by a professional dental hygienist, during which time your dentist and hygeinist can review proper daily oral hygiene habits with you.
Daily brushing and flossing: Daily brushing and flossing is critical to good dental health. To prevent gingivitis, cavities, and other dental problems, brush your teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. It is also important to floss at least once a day to remove plaque that builds up between the teeth and along the gum line.
Antiseptic mouthwash: Many dentists recommend the use of an antiseptic mouthwash in addition to regular brushing and flossing.
Additional treatment: Because preexisting dental problems can make ginigivits treatment less effective, your dentist may recommend correcting such problems as a part of treatment for gingivitis. Examples include Invisalign® or other orthodontic treatments for misaligned teeth, and implant dentistry or other replacements for poorly fitting bridges or crowns.
The symptoms of gingivitis typically fade within a few days to a couple weeks, as long as patients maintain a commitment to good oral health care. More serious cases of gingivitis may be referred to a periodontist, a specialist who focuses on gum disease. In severe cases, some patients may need to undergo surgery to treat the gums.
Preventing gingivitis is relatively simple. In almost every case, consistently good dental hygiene, including twice-daily brushing and daily flossing as well as regular professional cleaning, is sufficient to control plaque buildup and prevent gum disease. Many dentists also advise their patients to avoid constant snacking, especially on sugary foods and drinks, as this may encourage bacteria growth.
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According to the Mayo Clinic, nearly 80 percent of adults in America suffer from some form of gum disease. If you are suffering from gum pain, bleeding, and other symptoms of gum disease, use our convenient database of dental professionals to locate a qualified dentist near you. High-quality dental care and good oral hygiene can help you maintain a healthy mouth and avoid future dental problems.