When it comes to oral health, many people are more concerned about the appearance of their teeth than how healthy their mouth really is. Healthy gums are equally important as your pearly whites since healthy gums hold your teeth in the mouth and protect them from bacteria that cause bad breath. So how do you know if your gums are healthy?
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis, is a mild form of gum disease. Despite being preventable, gingivitis is quite common in adults and many people don’t even realize they have a problem. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that is caused by the build up of plaque and bacteria around the teeth and gums. Several symptoms of gingivitis include;
- swollen or puffy gums
- dusky red or dark red gums
- gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss
- bad breath
- receding gums
- tender gums
There are several known factors that can increase the risk of gingivitis;
- poor oral care habits
- smoking or chewing tobacco
- older age
- dry mouth
- poor nutrition, including Vitamin C deficiency
- dental restorations that don’t fit properly or crooked teeth that are difficult to clean
- conditions that decrease immune system such as leukemia, HIV/AIDS or cancer treatment
- certain drugs, such as phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek) for epileptic seizures and some calcium channel blockers, used for angina, high blood pressure and other conditions
- hormonal changes, such as those related to pregnancy, menstrual cycle or use of birth control pills
- medical conditions such as certain viral and fungal infections
What are the stages of Gum Disease?
There are four general stages to gum disease. If left untreated, gingivitis may lead to periondontitis, a far more serious form of gum disease.
Stage 1: Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, and its symptoms include inflamed or red gums that may bleed when brushed.
Stage 2: In early periodontitis, slight loss of bone that supports the teeth occurs even though other symptoms may not be easily observed.
Stage 3: In moderate periodontitis, more bone and gum tissue is destroyed and loosening of teeth may also occur.
Stage 4: Advanced periodontitis is the most severe stage of the disease. Symptoms become more severe, teeth can become very loose and biting and chewing may hurt. Extensive dental treatment is typically required to try to correct the damage of advanced periodontitis.
What is Peridontitis?
The term “periodontitis” is used to describe the later, more severe stages of gum disease. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to periodontitis, which carries symptoms and health implications such as receding gums, damage to the bone and connective tissue around teeth, and (in the severe cases) tooth loss.
While gingivitis may be treated, the effects of periodontitis are typically not reversible. It is a chronic, long-term condition that should be addressed with the help of a dental professional.
When should you see a Dentist?
Gingivitis can be treated with proper oral hygiene techniques and a visit to the dentist. Don’t let gingivitis cause irreversible damage by developing into a more serious gum disease. Book in to see your dentist for a clean and check and take control of your oral health!