adult man flossing his teethLike any medical or dental problem, acting quickly at the first sign of trouble is essential. Early gum disease, known as gingivitis, is highly treatable when caught in its early stages. When left untreated, however, gingivitis will progress to advanced periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth loss and the need for procedures that could be costly and time-consuming.

The Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics team in Spokane will do everything in our power to prevent you from ever needing treatment for advanced gum disease. Still, you must understand gum disease and how to avoid it. This patient education article will answer many of your questions about gingivitis and explain how to keep your gums pink, healthy, and disease-free.

What, Exactly, is Gingivitis?

Before we look at some of the most common signs and symptoms of gingivitis, let’s first explain what it is. Gingivitis is a common form of gum disease that causes irritation, redness, swelling, and bleeding of your gingiva, which is the part of your gum around the base of your teeth.

Gingivitis does not cause bone loss when it’s treated early, but if left untreated, gingivitis can lead to a much more severe gum disease called periodontitis, which may lead to tooth loss and other serious dental problems.

The most common cause of gingivitis is not cleaning your teeth and gums. Good oral hygiene habits, such as brushing at least twice daily, flossing daily, and visiting Dr. Collins twice yearly for exams and cleanings, can help prevent and reverse early-stage gingivitis.

Signs and Symptoms of Gingivitis

The most common indicators of gingivitis are:

  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Bright red or dark red gums
  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
  • Tender gums
  • Bad breath
  • Mouth sores

People of all ages can develop gingivitis.

Some factors that could lead to gum disease include:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Older age
  • Dry mouth
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Poor nutrition/lack of Vitamin C
  • Ill-fitting restorations such as fillings, bridges, dental implants, or veneers
  • Crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
  • Certain drugs
  • Hormonal changes that may occur during pregnancy, menstruation, or when taking birth control pills
  • Genetic makeup
  • Certain viral and fungal infections

How Gingivitis Develops

It is estimated that over half of adults over 30 have some degree of gum disease, but please remember that gingivitis can affect people of all ages. Youngsters are not immune from gum disease, and it’s not just an “older person” problem.

At Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics, we treat patients of all ages who are showing signs of gingivitis, and we provide education to our patients so they understand what is happening and why. Let’s take a look at how gingivitis develops.

Gingivitis develops in a particular way regardless of your age or habits. First, plaque forms on your teeth; plaque is a sticky film you cannot see and is made up of bacteria from certain foods and drinks. When plaque is not brushed and flossed away, it progresses into tartar; tartar is plaque that has remained on your teeth and has hardened under your gum line.

Tartar creates a protective shield for bacteria and irritates the gum line. Only professional gum disease treatment at Dr. Collins’s office will remove tartar, as brushing and flossing at home will not.

The longer plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more they irritate the gingiva. In time, your gums become swollen and tender and may bleed. As we have said before, when gum disease is left untreated, you may experience tooth loss, bone loss, and periodontitis.

By making an appointment at the first sign of gingivitis, you will have taken the most critical step to stop gum disease in its tracks.

Take the First Step Towards Healthy Gums Today

Don’t wait for your gum health to worsen. Early detection and treatment of gingivitis are vital in maintaining a healthy smile. Call us at (509) 532-1111 or complete our online contact form to schedule your appointment with our Spokane preventative care dentists to ensure your gums get the necessary care. Our team is ready to guide you through a personalized dental care plan, ensuring your gums stay pink, healthy, and disease-free.