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Gingivitis: Symptoms and Causes in College Park

Gingivitis: Symptoms and Causes

Do you see a little bit of blood while you floss or even just brush your teeth? Is your breath not as fresh as it usually is even after brushing? These are two indications that you might have gingivitis, which is the first stage of periodontal disease, also referred to as gum disease. Read on to discover more about gingivitis symptoms, causes and treatments and the possible ramifications of ignoring it.

Is Gum Disease Common and Preventable?

Among adults in the 30-and-older age range, just over 47% have one of the stages of periodontal disease, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This disease can become periodontitis when it’s not treated. At that point, the disease has reached an advanced stage. The tissue and bone that support the teeth may degenerate so much that the teeth may fall out.

American Academy of Periodontology statistics show that men are more likely than women to have gum disease, at about 56% and 38% respectively. The CDC says that aging also puts you at an increased risk of developing the disease, as 70% of people 65 and older suffer from it. On the bright side, the advanced stages of the disease are preventable when treatment is received at the early, gingivitis stage. Because of that, it’s essential to know the symptoms, and visit a dentist when they arise.

What Are the Gingivitis Symptoms?

When your gums are healthy, they’re firm, pale pink and fit around your teeth like a turtleneck fits around your neck. If you develop gingivitis, you might not feel any pain but will notice several signs that your gums are inflamed and irritated:

  • Bleeding gums when you floss or brush
  • Loose teeth
  • New gaps between your teeth or an altered bite
  • Persistent bad taste or bad breath
  • Purple or dark red gums
  • Receded gums or space between your gums and teeth
  • Sensitivity or pain while chewing
  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Tender or painful gums to the touch

What’s the Cause of Gum Disease?

Mainly consisting of bacteria, plaque is an invisible film that forms on and sticks to your teeth when you neglect your dental hygiene routine. Brushing and flossing every day is essential because plaque forms every time you eat foods that contain carbohydrates and sugars. These ingredients interact with the bacteria in your mouth, but proper dental hygiene can remove plaque.

If plaque remains on your teeth, it will harden into tartar or calculus under your gums, which is like a protective coating around the bacteria. A professional teeth cleaning is required to remove it. When you don’t get your teeth cleaned, the bacteria can infect and cause inflammation in the gingiva or the gum tissue around your teeth. Ignoring gingivitis can progress to lifelong periodontitis, which could lead to eventually losing some teeth. Also, it’s likely that some of your teeth will decay.

Do Certain Factors Increase the Risk of Developing Gingivitis?

Without proper oral care habits, no one is immune to developing gingivitis. However, certain factors can make you more likely to develop the condition, including:

  • Damaged dental fillings
  • Genes in your family
  • Health problems that impair the immune system, such as diabetes,
  • HIV, AIDS and cancer
  • Ill-fitting restorations, including bridges and dentures
  • Lack of nutrients and vitamins
  • Pregnancy, menstrual hormonal changes and birth control pills
  • Prescriptions that cause dry mouth and some other medications
  • Smoking or using chewing tobacco

Can Gum Disease Affect Other Aspects of Your Health?

Some of the consequences of severe gum disease include tissue, bone and tooth loss. However, research suggests that it may contribute to the development of other systemic health issues. Instead of the linking factor being bacteria like scientists once believed, now they think that the linking factor is inflammation. Here are a few health problems that often occur alongside periodontal disease:

Heart Disease: Periodontal disease and heart disease don’t have a proven cause-and-effect relationship. However, the AAP says that gum disease might increase the risk.

Stroke: Based on one study, people who had strokes because of brain artery blockages were more likely than a control group to have periodontal disease. Other research found that treating gum disease decreases the risk of strokes triggered by brain artery blockages. Furthermore, the risk for brain artery blockages was 2.4 times higher in people with gingivitis.

Respiratory Disease: In people with periodontal disease, it’s possible for the bacteria in their mouths to get into their lungs. Then, the bacteria can cause pneumonia or some other respiratory problem.

Cancer: People with gum disease are more likely than those without it to get certain cancers. It can really take a toll on men since they’re more likely than women to develop the oral condition. In fact, they have a 14% chance of developing cancer if they have or have had periodontal disease. Below are a few other statistics regarding men with gum disease:

  • 54% higher risk of pancreatic cancer
  • 49% higher risk of kidney cancer
  • 30% higher risk of blood cancers

Diabetes: Compared to people with diabetes who control their blood sugar levels, those who don’t control their sugars have a greater risk for developing gum disease. On the other hand, severe periodontal disease can raise blood sugars, increasing the risk of complications, including nerve damage, kidney disease and loss of vision.

How Can You and Your Dentist Prevent and Treat Gingivitis?

Practicing good oral hygiene at home is the key to controlling and preventing gingivitis. Your dentist can recommend the optimal number of times that you need to brush and floss to eliminate bacteria and plaque. Getting routine teeth cleanings at the dentist is essential, too.

If you have gingivitis and catch it early, it can be treated with a professional cleaning and consistent brushing and flossing at home. For more progressed inflammation, the dentist might recommend scaling and root planing to remove tartar and plaque from below the gumline. Contact us for an appointment to find out what the dentist recommends for you.

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