Gingivitis is an oral health condition that causes gum inflammation. Gingivitis marks the beginning stages of gum disease and causes your gum tissue to appear red and puffy, when healthy gum tissue should be firm and pink.
Although gingivitis isn’t technically gum disease, it can lead to full-blown gum disease if left untreated. Here are the top causes of this oral health problem and how you can treat it to prevent gum disease from ruining your smile!
Poor Oral Hygiene
Plaque is the most common cause of gingivitis. Plaque consists of bacteria that coats the teeth—if you haven’t brushed for a few hours or overnight, you can often feel plaque beginning to form on your pearly whites!
Typically, you can keep plaque off the surfaces of your teeth and from accumulating around your gumline by brushing and flossing regularly. However, when you skip brushing or flossing, plaque can build up in the mouth and eventually lead to gingivitis .
Hormonal changes have the ability to affect the oral cavity, particularly when it comes to gum tissue. In pregnant women, these changes can cause an increased flow of blood to the gums, causing them to appear swollen and to mimic the symptoms of gingivitis .
However, don’t immediately write off your symptoms as related to pregnancy. Some women may have gingivitis before they become pregnant, and the hormonal changes during pregnancy can make the condition worse.
You should always follow up with your dentist if you’re experiencing symptoms of gum disease, especially during pregnancy, as women with gum disease are more at risk to give birth to premature babies or babies with low birth weight .
There are other factors that can cause gum disease. People whose parents have gingivitis are more likely to develop it, as are people who smoke or use tobacco.
People who have crowded or crooked teeth may have difficulty cleaning all the surfaces of their teeth, leading to more plaque formation and an increased risk of gingivitis. Uncontrolled diabetes can also influence plaque formation in the oral cavity.
Some medications such as anti-seizure medications and even oral contraceptives have also been linked to gingivitis .
How Can You Treat Gingivitis?
Your dentist can usually treat gingivitis without special treatment. Typically, patients with gum inflammation need a deep cleaning to remove plaque from around the gumline, and to continue proper oral care habits at home .
For patients whose crowded teeth or a medical condition such as diabetes is suspected to be the cause of their gingivitis, correcting these underlying issues can lead to greater chances of success with treating the condition.
Keeping up with your regular dental visits in addition to your oral care at home can help prevent gingivitis! When treating this oral health condition, it’s essential to follow up with your dentist for regular cleanings to ensure that the inflammation doesn’t return and develop into gum disease.