Gingivitis refers to inflammation of the gingiva, the gum tissue covering the jawbones and supporting teeth. Gingivitis is not necessarily periodontitis, but if left untreated can progress to more serious stages of gum disease. Gingivitis is typically an early sign of periodontitis, and something the dentist checks for during a routine dental examination and professional cleaning appointment. If treated early and efficiently, the gum tissue health can be restored and the patient can continue to benefit from good overall oral and dental health.
A primary cause of gingivitis is bacteria, usually from a build-up of plaque along the gumline near the base of teeth. When brushing and flossing habits are insufficient, plaque builds up along the gums and promotes the growth of bacteria. The bacteria causes inflammation in the gums which can progress to full periodontitis and eventually damage teeth, gum tissue, bone, and overall health. The build-up of bacteria and inflammation creates a gap between the gums and the teeth, and this gap can grow over time if left untreated. [pullquote]A primary cause of gingivitis is bacteria, usually from a build-up of plaque along the gumline near the base of teeth. [/pullquote]
There are other causes of gingivitis in addition to just plaque and bacteria. Some women experience an increase in susceptibility to gingivitis and other dental health problems as hormonal changes occur associated with puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and/or menopause. During the hormonal changes the gum tissue may become more sensitive or the symptoms may be undetectable until noticed during a dental examination. Certain health conditions and prescription medications can also affect the body’s ability to maintain good oral health and trigger an increase in gingivitis in some patients.
It’s important to discuss health and medication concerns with the dentist to counter negative effects when possible. Smokers also tend to develop gingivitis frequently, due to the smoking habits increasing bacteria in the mouth, especially along the front teeth. Regardless of the causes or possible causes of gingivitis, the best defense is establishing efficient brushing and flossing habits. Brushing at least twice daily and flossing daily can greatly improve oral health, especially when combined with regular professional cleanings and checkups with a dentist.
For more information on preventing and treating gingivitis, contact the office of Dr. Lori Logan and our caring dental specialists today!