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Posted on: July 6, 2020
Gingivitis: Symptoms and Causes in Denville, NJ
Do you see a bit of blood on your floss during your oral hygiene routine? Has anyone mentioned that your breath doesn’t smell as fresh as usual? These are warning signs that you could have gingivitis, the first stage of periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. Read more to learn the gingivitis signs, causes and treatments, as well as the potential consequences of ignoring this gum inflammation.
How Common Is Gingivitis, and Is It Preventable?
According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 47% of adults age 30 and older suffer from some stage of periodontal disease. Unless it’s treated, this oral condition can progress into periodontitis, the most advanced and potentially irreversible stage. By that point, the teeth can loosen and fall out because the supportive bone and tissue around them are deteriorating.
Compared to 56% of men, only 38% of women develop gum disease, reports the American Academy of Periodontology. On top of that, the risk for developing the condition rises as people get older, with the CDC noting that 70% of older adults who are at least 65 have gum disease. The good news is that it’s preventable and treatable with early detection during the gingivitis stage. For that reason, knowing the symptoms of gingivitis and visiting a dentist when you notice the signs are the keys to recovery.
What Symptoms Occur with Gum Disease?
Fitting snugly against your teeth without any spaces, healthy gums are pale pink in color and firm. Since pain isn’t usually associated with gingivitis, other signs are likely to present themselves when your gums become irritated and inflamed from the infection:
- Bloody gums after brushing or flossing
- Changes in the space between your teeth or bite
- Eating causes pain or tenderness
- Foul breath or persistent bad taste
- Gums that are pulled away or receding from your teeth
- Gums that are purple or dark red
- Puffiness or swelling in your gums
- Teeth can move
- Tender or painful gums when touched
What Causes Gum Disease?
Mostly composed of bacteria, plaque is an invisible, sticky film that forms on your teeth if you don’t have good oral hygiene habits. In fact, plaque forms every time you eat sugary and carbohydrate-heavy foods because they interact with the bacteria in your mouth. The best way to remove plaque and prevent buildup is to floss and brush daily.
If you don’t remove it, plaque hardens under the gumline and becomes calculus or tartar. It’s like a protective shield around the bacteria, and you’ll need a professional teeth cleaning to remove it. When left alone, the bacteria from plaque and tartar can infect the gingiva, which is the tissue surrounding the base of your teeth. Over time, gingivitis that isn’t treated will get worse and become periodontitis, which could cause your teeth to fall out. Tooth decay is highly probable, too.
Are There Factors That Increase the Risk for Developing Gingivitis?
It’s possible for anyone to develop gum disease, but certain factors can increase your risk. Along with improper dental care habits, these factors include:
- Bad dental fillings
- Birth control pills, menstrual hormonal changes and pregnancy
- Bridges, dentures and other restorations that don’t fit well
- Chewing or smoking tobacco
- Family history of gum disease
- Health problems that weaken the immune system, including HIV,
- AIDS, diabetes and cancer
- Poor nutrition and vitamin deficiencies
- Prescription medications, especially those that dry out your mouth
Does Gum Disease Cause Other Health Problems?
Some of the ramifications of chronic periodontal disease include bone, tooth and tissue loss. However, studies suggest that it also might be a contributing factor of other systemic health conditions. Rather than bacteria being the link, researchers have discovered that a common link is inflammation. Take a look at the health problems that have been associated with gum disease:
Heart Disease: The AAP notes that periodontal disease may make it more likely to develop heart disease. However, researchers haven’t yet proven a relationship between them.
Stroke: In one study, people with brain artery blockages that caused strokes were more likely to have gum disease. Other studies suggest that treating periodontal disease reduces the risk of strokes from brain artery hardening. Also, people were 2.4 times as likely to have severe brain artery blockages if they had gingivitis.
Respiratory Disease: According to research, the bacteria from gum disease can be breathed into the lungs. For this reason, people with the oral condition can develop pneumonia or other breathing conditions.
Cancer: The risk of certain cancers is higher in people with gum disease. Since men are more likely than women to develop gum disease, it can really take a toll on them. Men who have or have had the disease are 14% more likely to get cancer than those who have never had it. Here are some other cancer-related statistics for men with periodontal disease:
- 54% increased risk for pancreatic cancer
- 49% increased risk for kidney cancer
- 30% increased risk for blood cancers
Diabetes: When people with diabetes don’t control their blood sugar levels, they have a much greater chance of developing gum disease. At the same time, serious periodontal disease can raise blood sugar levels, which increases their risk for complications, such as kidney disease, nerve damage and vision loss.
What’s the Best Way to Prevent or Treat Gum Disease?
Having healthy at-home dental hygiene habits is the key to preventing or controlling gingivitis. A dentist can tell you how many times a day you should floss and brush to eliminate bacteria and plaque. Additionally, you must visit the dentist for regular teeth cleanings.
When you catch it early, gingivitis is typically reversible with a special teeth cleaning and proper at-home oral hygiene habits. For inflammation that progresses further, the dentist may suggest scaling and root planing to get rid of the tartar and plaque under the gumline. Schedule an appointment with our dentist to create a treatment plan for you.