Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that destroys the attachment fibers and supporting bones that hold the teeth in the mouth. This disease causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bleed easily. At this stage there tends to be little or no discomfort. Generally gingivitis is caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Come in to see your dentist as gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.
To minimize the risk of developing gum disease, it’s imperative to remove plaque and tartar by brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily and maintaining regular check-ups. The longer plaque and tartar are on the teeth, the infection may worsen by creating an infected pocket surrounding the tooth. When this pocket deepens, the infection can spread to the tissues surrounding the tooth and add to the progressive loss of the alveolar bone that contains the tooth sockets. If left untreated, it may lead to the loosening and subsequent loss of teeth.
When gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis ("Perio" means around and "dontis" means tooth), inflammation around the tooth. In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (pockets) that become infected. Bacteria starts to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place. If left untreated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed and eventually may become loose resulting in removal.
Maintaining regular check-ups is crucial in preventing gum disease. If you notice any of these symptoms below, don’t delay seeing your dentist. Be proactive.
- painful chewing
- loose teeth
- tender or bleeding gums
- red or swollen gums
- sensitive teeth
- consistent bad breath
- receding gums or longer appearing teeth