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What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a term you’ve probably heard, but you’re unsure of what it actually constitutes. However, we guarantee you already know what it is, you just don’t realise because it’s hiding behind its medical name! Gingivitis, or gingiva, is the first stage of gum disease. It signifies the inflammation of the gums because of the bacteria associated with plaque build-up on and between the teeth.

Gingivitis is a non-destructive form of gum disease, meaning it’s not technically present in its most harsh or threatening form. However, it can very easily progress into periodontitis, a more serious stage of gum disease, that is known to lead to tooth loss.

What are the symptoms?

Red, puffy, and swollen gums are signs that you’re encountering gingivitis, as is gum sensitivity and blood when brushing your teeth. Bad breath and receding gums are also commonly associated with gum disease. This early stage of gum disease often resolves itself with good oral hygiene, as long as you’re brushing and flossing and visiting your hygienist regularly (don’t worry, you can visit our hygienist if you’ve not considered that before). Because these symptoms are incredibly common they can often go unnoticed or not heeded as the warning that they are. In both cases, you should definitely pay attention.

What causes gingivitis?

The most common cause of gingivitis is the accumulation of bacterial plaque between and around the teeth. The plaque triggers a protective response from our immune system, which can eventually lead to the breaking down of affected gum tissue. When this happens, our teeth use fundamental support, leading to the scary potential of losing them altogether. Dental plaque accumulates when bacteria try to stick to the smooth and lubricated surface of a tooth, so when it is not removed properly it can harden in tartar at the base of the teeth right on top of the gums. Plaque and tartar irritate the gums, causing inflammation and sensitivity, meaning the gums can easily bleed.

Other causes and risk factors

When not caused by the build-up of excess plaque, there are a number of other ways gingivitis can occur. Changes in hormones during puberty, the menopause, menstruation, and pregnancy can lead to gums becoming more sensitive, raising the risk of inflammation. Some diseases like cancer, diabetes, and HIV are linked to a higher risk of developing gum disease. Even some medical drugs can affect your gum health, especially if saliva flow is reduced. Smoking, age, and a poor diet or lack of Vitamin-C have also been closely linked to the development of gum disease.

Caring for your gums and preventing gum disease

At-home care is essential to maintain as well as regular appointments with your dental hygienist. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing once a day, and using antiseptic mouthwash all contributes to healthy gums. Professional cleaning and prevention therapies too, like those we provide in our Bolton dental practice, will help to maintain your gums and keep you smiling for longer. When you come for a regular hygienist appointment, our excellent hygienists – who have more than 50 years’ experience between them – will work with you to make sure that you have a comfortable and healthy mouth.

Gingivitis is incredibly common in the UK, and 90% of adults suffer from some form of gum disease in any given extremity. If everyone had the dental knowledge we do and used it to its full potential, we feel this number would significantly drop! Book your next appointment with Harwood Dental Care by calling 01204 304568 or enquire online today.

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