Watch Out for These 12 Early Warning Signs of Gingivitis
When we think about our oral health, we often think about our teeth and forget all about our gums. But gum health is critical to our oral health and our overall health. Gum disease is correlated with an increased risk for high blood pressure and heart disease. And your cardiovascular system reacts poorly to inflammation by increasing the amount of cholesterol and fats in your bloodstream, which can cause a build-up of plaque on your artery walls. So, to protect your overall health, look for signs of gingivitis.
What are the signs of gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease. It is commonly associated with irritation, inflammation (swelling), and redness of your gingiva, which is the part of your gums around the base of your teeth. Your gum health can negatively affect your overall health, and gingivitis is often referred to as the silent killer since it comes on gradually and is usually painless. And when caught early, gingivitis is entirely reversible. For this reason, it’s essential to be aware of the signs of gingivitis.
So let’s get right to it.
12 Common Signs of Gingivitis
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth or bite down
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Bright red, dusky red, or purplish colored gums
- Gums that are tender to the touch or blood easily
- Gums have started to pull away from your teeth, resulting in your teeth looking longer than normal
- Loose permanent teeth or loss of teeth
- New spaces have developed between your teeth
- Painful chewing
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Swollen or puffy gums
- Your toothbrush is pink-tinged after brushing
- You are spitting out blood when brushing or flossing
If you have noticed or experienced one or more of the above symptoms, we recommend you schedule an appointment with your dentist. The sooner your dentist can conduct an oral evaluation and assess your situation, the better because they can provide you with a treatment plan. And, the sooner you begin your treatment for gingivitis, the less likely it will be to morph into its more severe form, periodontitis.
What causes gingivitis?
Now that you know what to look for, let’s discuss what causes gum disease in the first place. The answer is quite simple—poor oral hygiene. When we fail to practice a good oral care routine at home—inclusive of brushing our teeth twice a day, flossing daily, rinsing away loosened food particles with a fluoridated mouthwash, and visiting our dentist every six months for a professional dental cleaning and oral evaluation—plaque forms on our teeth, which creates inflammation of our gum tissues.
Understanding how plaque leads to gingivitis can help reinforce the need for a good oral care routine at home.
- Plaque forms on your teeth daily and requires regular removal through brushing and flossing.
- When plaque is not thoroughly removed regularly, it turns into tartar. This tartar makes the plaque more difficult to remove, creates irritation along the gumline, and collects bacteria. Once plaque has turned into tartar, it can only be removed via a professional dental cleaning.
- The longer plaque and tartar sit on your teeth, the more it irritates the gingiva, leading to inflammation. Over time, your gums will begin to bleed easily and swell. The result is tooth decay and gingivitis. If not treated, gingivitis can turn into nonreversible periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss.
In addition to the causes of gum disease, certain risk factors can increase your likelihood for developing the illness.
Risk Factors for Gingivitis
- Poor oral care at home
- Failure to visit the dentist every six months for a professional dental cleaning and oral evaluation
- Dry mouth
- Smoking, vaping, or chewing tobacco
- Hormonal changes related to pregnancy, menstrual cycle, or the use of birth control pills
- Age (the older you are, the more likely you are to develop gum disease) or genetics
- Certain medical conditions, specifically viral and fungal infections, leukemia, HIV/AIDS, or cancer
- Medications such as phenytoin for epileptic seizures and some calcium channel blockers used for angina, high blood pressure, and other conditions
- Poorly fitted dental restorations or crooked teeth
- Vitamin C deficiency or poor nutrition
Maintain healthy gums, and prevent gingivitis with regular visits to your dental office in Austin, TX.
There is no time like the present to take control of your oral health and protect your teeth and gums. Start by adopting a good oral care routine at home, and request an appointment with your local dentist or Dr. Garcia at Parmer Lane Family Dentistry. Your dentist can set you on a path to better oral health and healthy gums. Why wait? Contact us today.