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Gingivitis: Symptoms and Causes in Northern New Jersey

Have you noticed that your gums bleed a little bit when you brush or floss? Maybe someone has kindly mentioned that you don’t have breath that’s as fresh as it used to be. In either case, you might have gingivitis, the earliest stage of periodontal disease, also called gum disease. Keep reading to learn the signs of gingivitis, its causes, how to treat it and the consequences of not getting treatment for this inflammation.

How Common Is Gum Disease? Can It Be Prevented?

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 50% of adults over the age of 30 have gum disease in some form. When this disease isn’t treated, it can turn into periodontitis. This lifelong, advanced form of gum disease causes the degeneration of the tissue and bone that support the teeth. This could cause the teeth to fall out.

Nearly 40% of women have gum disease, compared with just over 56% of men having it, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. Aging raises the risk even higher, with the CDC reporting that 70% of people over the age of 65 have the condition. The bright side is that gum disease can be prevented and treated, especially when it’s caught during the gingivitis stage. So, knowing the warning signs and seeing the dentist as soon as they arise is important for your oral health.

What Symptoms Occur with Gingivitis?

Fitting tightly against your teeth so that there are no gaps, healthy gums are firm and a pale pink color. Despite causing inflammation, gingivitis doesn’t typically cause pain, so you should look for the following signs if you think you have it:

  • Bleeding from your gums while brushing or flossing
  • Changes in your bite or the space between your teeth
  • Gumline that’s receded or pulled away from your teeth
  • Gums that are dark red or purple
  • Movable teeth
  • Painful or tender gums when touched
  • Persistent bad taste or foul breath
  • Sensitivity or pain when eating
  • Swelling or puffiness in your gums

Why Does Gum Disease Develop?

Plaque is an invisible, soft film that consists mainly of bacteria and builds up on your teeth if you neglect your oral hygiene routine. Each time you eat foods containing sugars and carbohydrates, plaque forms. The reason is that these foods interact with the bacteria in your mouth. Flossing and brushing daily prevents plaque from sticking to your teeth.

Over time, plaque that isn’t removed hardens under the gums and turns into calculus or tartar. The coating becomes a barrier for the bacteria and requires a professional dental cleaning to remove. When it isn’t removed, the calculus and bacteria can infect the gingiva, which causes inflammation in the gum tissues that surround your teeth. Gingivitis that isn’t treated can progress to periodontitis, so you could eventually lose some of your teeth, and it’s also very likely that you’ll have tooth decay.

Do Common Factors Make Developing Gingivitis More Likely?

Gum disease can affect anyone, but some factors make developing the disease more likely. Aside from having poor dental hygiene habits, these factors are:

  • Dentures, bridges and other restorations that don’t fit
  • Gum disease runs in your family
  • Health issues that weaken your immune system, such as cancer, HIV, AIDS and diabetes
  • Inadequate dental fillings
  • Lacking certain vitamins and nutrients
  • Menstrual hormonal changes, birth control pills and pregnancy
  • Prescription drugs, particularly those that dry your mouth
  • Using chewing tobacco or smoking

Could Gum Disease Lead to Other Health Issues?

Bone, tissue and tooth loss are just a few of the consequences of chronic gum disease. Studies show that it can also contribute to other systemic health conditions. Bacteria was once believed to be the causative factor, but further research shows that inflammation could be the link. Below are a few health problems that are associated with gum disease:

Heart Disease: Based on research, the AAP notes that gum disease might raise your risk for heart disease. However, this hasn’t been proven.

Stroke: According to a research study, more people who suffered strokes caused by brain artery blockages had gum disease than the control group. Separate studies found that treating periodontal disease decreases the risk of brain artery-related strokes. In addition, people with gingivitis were nearly 2.5 times more likely to have brain artery blockages.

Respiratory Disease: Research has found that the bacteria in the mouths of people with gum disease can be breathed into the lungs, causing them to suffer from pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.

Cancer: Anyone with gum disease is more at risk for developing certain cancers. With the condition being more common among men than women, their risk is higher. In fact, these men are 14% more likely to have cancer compared to men who don’t have periodontal disease. The following are more statistics regarding the likelihood of men with gum disease developing cancer:

  • 30% higher risk for developing blood cancers
  • 49% higher risk for developing kidney cancer
  • 54% higher risk for developing pancreatic cancer

Diabetes: People with diabetes who don’t control their blood sugar have a much higher chance of developing periodontal disease than those who do. In addition, a severe oral infection can raise blood sugars, which increases the risk of complications, such as vision loss, nerve damage and kidney disease.

What Are the Best Methods for Preventing and Treating Gingivitis?

Maintaining healthy at-home oral hygiene habits is the optimal solution for preventing and controlling gingivitis. Your dentist can tell you how often that you need to brush and floss each day to remove the plaque and bacteria. Also, it’s essential to get routine professional dental cleanings.

If you catch gingivitis in the early stages, a professional teeth cleaning and proper dental hygiene at home could reverse the damage. If the inflammation has progressed too far, the dentist may recommend scaling and root planing to remove the plaque and tartar beneath your gums. You’ll receive a personalized treatment plan when you visit our dentist.

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