Gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, is the first stage of gum disease, and by far the easiest to treat! The direct cause of gingivitis is the soft, sticky, colourless film of bacteria that forms constantly on your teeth and gums, better known as plaque.
If the plaque is not removed by brushing and flossing daily it produces poisons that irritate your gums, causing gingivitis. At this early stage of gum disease most damage can be reversed, since the bone and tissue that hold the teeth in place have usually not been affected yet. Left untreated however, gingivitis can become periodontitis which can cause permanent damage to your teeth, jaw and smile.
Do I already have gingivitis?
Gingivitis symptoms include red, swollen, sore or tender gums which may also bleed when you brush your teeth. The gums may have pulled away from the teeth, making your teeth appear elongated. Gum disease can cause pockets to forms between the teeth and gums where plaque and food pieces can collect. You may have noticed you have bad breath or a strange taste in your mouth, even if the disease is not very advanced.
Can I prevent gingivitis?
Good oral hygiene is essential to help prevent gingivitis and gum disease. Professional cleanings are also important because once plaque has hardened and built up, or become tartar, only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove it.
You can help stop gingivitis before it develops by:
- Brushing your teeth and flossing properly to remove plaque and debris and help control tartar build up.
- Eating healthy, nutritious food. Try not to snack between meals if you can.
- Avoiding cigarettes and other forms of tobacco
- Visiting your dentist regularly