Gingivitis is a very common and mild form of gum (periodontal) disease that causes irritation, redness and swelling (inflammation) of your gums. Because gingivitis can be very mild, you may not be aware that you have the condition. However,it is important to take gingivitis seriously and treat it promptly. Gingivitis can lead to much more serious gum disease (periodontitis) and eventual tooth loss.
The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene. Good oral health habits, such as regular professional dental checkups and daily brushing and flossing, can help prevent gingivitis.
Healthy gums are firm and pale pink. If your gums are puffy, dusky red and bleed easily, you may have gingivitis. Because gingivitis is seldom painful, you can have gingivitis without even knowing it. Signs and symptoms of gingivitis may include:
- Swollen gums
- Soft, puffy gums
- Receding gums
- Occasionally, tender gums
- Gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss, sometimes seen as redness or pinkness on your brush or floss
- A change in the color of your gums from a healthy pink to dusky red
- Bad breath
When to see a dentist?
Family dentists like Dr. Natalie Nechvatal, recommend regular checkups to identify gingivitis, cavities and other dental conditions before they cause-troubling symptoms and lead to more-serious problems. Also, schedule an appointment if you notice any signs and symptoms of gingivitis. The sooner you seek care, the better your chances of reversing damage from gingivitis and preventing its progression to more-serious conditions.
Untreated gingivitis can progress to gum disease that spreads to underlying tissue and bone (periodontitis), a much more serious condition that can lead to tooth loss. Periodontitis and poor oral health in general may also affect your overall health in ways that are not completely understood. Studies link periodontitis to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke or lung disease. In addition, women with periodontitis may be more likely to give birth to premature babies or babies with low birth weight than are women with healthy gums. Although more research is needed, these studies highlight the importance of taking good care of your teeth and gums.
Follow your dentist's recommended schedule for regular checkups. If you notice any symptoms of gingivitis, make an appointment at Light Touch Dental Care in Holland, Ohio.