If you suffer from sore, red gums that occasionally bleed after brushing, you may have developed gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. Millions of Americans deal with gingivitis each year, and a study conducted by the American Dental Association found that 70 percent of all adults will battle the disease at some point in their life.
The problem with gingivitis is that the disease’s mild symptoms are easy to overlook, which could prevent you from seeking treatment until it has progressed into a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis. Fortunately, you can reverse the effects of gingivitis by practicing quality oral hygiene.
The Causes of Gingivitis
By failing to brush and floss at least twice a day, you allow deposits of plaque, a harmful bacteria that thrives in the mouth, to buildup around the base of your teeth. Whenever you consume foods or drinks that contain sugar, plaque releases acids that destroy tooth enamel and cause decay. Once you allow plaque to remain on your teeth for at least 72 hours, it transforms into tartar, a hardened from of the bacteria that can only be removed from your teeth by a dentist.
When tartar forms along your gum line, it makes brushing and flossing these areas of the mouth difficult. Eventually plaque deposits start to irritate and inflame gum tissue along the base of your teeth, which results in the development of gingivitis.
The Symptoms of Gingivitis
Because the symptoms of gingivitis start off as very mild, you can suffer from the disease and not realize it until the symptoms have progressed. In time, you may begin to notice:
- Gums that have become purplish, red, or swollen. Healthy gums should appear pink and firm.
- Gums that bleed, especially after brushing of flossing.
- Gums that have become sore or tender to the touch.
- The development of mouth sores.
If you suspect you suffer from gingivitis, contact your dentist for an appointment. By performing a routine oral examination, your dentist can determine whether you have gingivitis and how far along the disease has progressed.
In order to maintain and improve your oral health, the American Dental Association recommends taking the following preventive steps:
- Brush at least twice a day. While most people brush before bedtime, a large portion of the population fails to brush in the morning shortly after waking up. By failing to brush in the morning, you allow plaque that has built up overnight to damage your teeth following each meal of the day. Brushing in the morning allows you to remove excess plaque from your teeth, which prevents much of the damage that the bacteria would otherwise cause.
- Floss daily. For many dentists, flossing plays a more vital role in preventing gum disease than brushing. That’s because flossing helps to remove plaque from areas between teeth that your toothbrush cannot reach. If you’re one of the millions of Americans who fail to floss, you’re allowing plaque to build up between teeth where it can slowly contribute to not only the development of gum disease but tooth decay as well.
- Schedule regular dental appointments. Few people enjoy visiting the dentist, but to enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums, you need to put aside any dental anxiety and visit at least once every six months. Scheduling regular checkups with the Dr. Jarvis provides him the opportunity to spot early signs of gum disease before it has an opportunity to develop into the more serious periodontitis.