Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease which is characterised by inflammation of the gums. Many people have gingivitis but may not even realise.
SO, what causes gingivitis?
Gingivitis is mainly caused by a build of plaque between the teeth. This plaque, which is a soft, sticky film made up of bacteria, releases toxins that begin to irritate the gums.
If plaque is left it turns hard and forms what we call tartar or calculus. If we leave this tartar build up too long, the gums will become more and more irritated and angry and this could progress to a more serious condition called periodontitis.
You could say that gingivitis is more often than not caused by poor oral hygiene.
What are the signs of gingivitis?
- Swollen gums
- Gums may not look tight against the tooth
- Red or purplish looking gums
- Bleeding gums after brushing or flossing
- Tender gums or gums painful to touch
- Receding gums
- Halitosis (bad breath)
Sometimes gingivitis won’t be painful so it is better to use the appearance of the gums and the frequency of bleeding as a guide.
People who are more at risk of getting gum disease;
- Those with certain diseases such as diabetes, cancer and HIV
- Those with a weakened immune system
- Those going through hormonal changes (eg. menopause, pregnancy)
- Those with poor oral hygiene
- Those taking certain medications especially ones which reduce saliva production
- Those with a family history of gingivitis or periodontal disease
How can we avoid gingivitis?
The easiest way to ensure you don’t get gingivitis is to floss effectively between your teeth used in combination with brushing. Flossing between the teeth helps to remove plaque build up to avoid the gums becoming inflamed in the first place.
Brushing your teeth and GUMS is essential to avoiding gingivitis. Brushing the gums gently ensures that any plaque building up on the area where the base of the tooth meets the gum line is removed and bacteria brushed away from the area.
Regular cleaning by a dental professional-
Regular professional cleans by a dentist or hygienist is also vital to ensuring you have healthy gums free from disease. Regular cleaning can assist you by removing any plaque or calculus that may have formed, starting you a fresh. Regular cleaning ensures that there is not a lot of time for a build up to occur; therefore safeguarding you from gingivitis, periodontal disease and all that goes along with these diseases.
As time goes by, the importance of having clean teeth free from the bacteria’s found in plaque and calculus is becoming more and more evident. Recently there have been studies linking gum disease to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease or stroke, and also between gum disease in pregnancy and low birth weight babies. These are not the only linkages being researched either.
So, as it turns out, gingivitis is less innocent as it once was perceived and taking steps to avoid it is not only good for your gums and teeth but also your body as a whole.