If you have red, swollen, or bleeding gums, you could be among the large percentage of Australians who suffer from gingivitis.
While many people believe that slight bleeding of the gums is normal, it is actually the first sign that gum disease is developing.
Gum disease is an infection of the gums, most often due to poor oral hygiene. The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. Gingivitis is the stage at which gum disease is easily preventable and treatable.
However, failing to recognise the symptoms of the infection and not immediately reacting to it, allows it to progress. At Mayfield Dental Care, we want to help you prevent and treat gingivitis before it can progress to periodontitis, which is even more threatening to your health.
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is gum inflammation, an extremely common, early, and treatable form of periodontal disease. It leads to inflammation and infection in the gums, teeth, and periodontal ligaments that link your teeth to the bone and the tooth socket.
Plaque buildup is the initial culprit in gingivitis. If plaque isn’t removed, it turns into tartar, or calculus, which gets trapped at the base of your teeth. This leads to sensitive, infected, and inflamed gums. If this condition is left untreated it can turn into periodontitis, causing receding gums and worse.
Symptoms of Gingivitis
Many patients ask how they can tell if they have gingivitis? Two things to consider are symptoms and potential causes.
In mild cases of gingivitis, there is often no discomfort or dramatic symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of gingivitis can include:
- Gums that may be painful to the touch or tender
- Gums that are bright red or purple
- Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
- Bad breath, or halitosis
- Inflamed or swollen gums
- Receding gums
- Soft gums
Potential causes of gingivitis
- Improper oral care
- Hormonal factors – aging, pregnancy, a compromised immune system from illness (diabetes, HIV/AIDS)
Steps to Help Prevent and Treat Gingivitis
- Brush your teeth and gums for two minutes, at least two times a day. You hear us say this all the time, but brushing is your first line of defence against gingivitis and other dental health issues.
- Floss at least once a day, reaching between teeth and below the gum line to remove gingivitis-causing plaque.
- Brush and floss properly – Check with us at Mayfield Dental Care for a refresher on your brushing and flossing techniques.
- Use an anti-gingivitis toothpaste: Your toothpaste should be able to remove plaque from both your teeth and around your gum line, neutralising plaque bacteria around the gum line.
- Use a mouthwash that fights gingivitis.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months: Tired bristles remove less plaque.
- If you have painful gums after flossing or brushing, or notice bleeding, do not stop brushing or flossing. Instead, move to a soft-bristled toothbrush. If you do notice bleeding, see us at Mayfield Dental Care.
- Check your gums in the mirror often for changes in colour or texture. If their appearance changes, see your dentist and hygienist.
- Cut back on sugary foods. Sugar assists the growth of bacteria by giving it the food on which to grow.
Diagnosis & treatment in our offices
Your dentist or oral hygienist will check for symptoms, such as plaque and tartar in the oral cavity. Preventing and treating gingivitis is based on erasing plaque from your teeth and gums as soon as possible. Your hygienist will remove plaque or tartar (plaque that has hardened) from your teeth during a dental scale and clean, and using special tools. Tartar can only be removed by a dental professional, which is why it is so important your home dental habits prevent it.
What Happens If I Ignore Gingivitis?
Gingivitis can be reversed. However, if left untreated, it progresses to periodontal disease, a serious disease that causes damage that cannot be reversed. Not only does periodontal disease wreak havoc on the bone and gums that support teeth, but it’s also associated with serious health conditions.
Links have been discovered between periodontal disease and type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, pneumonia, adverse pregnancy outcomes, strokes, and even cancer.
The take-home message is this – Beating gingivitis at home, before it has a chance to set in, is your best chance to beat gum disease and have better dental health!
Making a Better Dental Future at Mayfield Dental Care
Mayfield Dental Care provides excellence in dentistry with the slogan, “Customer satisfaction must be our top most priority”. Our guiding principles are innovation, culture and care. Our equipment is cutting-edge and our outlook is forward-looking to provide you with the best dental experience you have ever had.
Mayfield Dental Care has world-class dental and orthodontic specialists, cutting-edge technology, caring support staff who are extremely experienced in the field, and a comfortable and welcoming environment.
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