In simple terms, gingivitis is irritation or inflammation of gum tissue.  Gingivitis is sometimes referred to as mild or early gum disease.  Common symptoms of gingivitis are red, irritated gums that will quite often bleed when brushing.  Many factors can cause gingivitis.  The most common cause is poor or inadequate dental care.

Although thorough daily toothbrushing and flossing will go a long way to help prevent gingivitis, lack of oral care is not the only cause.  Hormonal changes such as pregnancy, certain medications, improper tooth alignment and some systemic diseases can make gingivitis worse.  If left untreated, gingivitis will result in periodontal disease.  Family history or genetics may also play a role.

Recognizing the symptoms of gum disease (gingivitis)

  • Red swollen gums, sometimes will bleed when touched
  • Tender gum tissues – painful to touch
  • Bad breath, mouth odor
  • Bas taste in mouth
  • Gum tissues are swollen

Brushing and flossing are important!  If food debris is left on the teeth for an extended period of time it starts to break down.  Bacteria present and food debris together irritate the tissues.  Mechanical removal such as effective brushing, flossing and rinsing with a non-alcohol mouthwash will help remove the bacteria and food debris.  Brushing alone isn’t enough.  While your toothbrush can clean the top and sides of your teeth, floss is needed to clean between.  Don’t worry if you are not the most coordinated flosser.  There are many tools available on the market to make flossing easier.  Floss holders, wands and floss of various thicknesses and flavours are available to make it easier for you. 

When plaque remains on the teeth for an extended period it hardens into tartar.  Tartar is difficult to remove and professional help is required.  It’s important to have regular dental check ups and professional cleanings to keep the tartar away.  Your dental hygienist will discuss with you how often you should have your teeth cleaned.  It is common for your dental hygienist to suggest having your teeth scaled (tartar removed) at 3, 6 or 9 month intervals depending on how much tartar you build up.  Your hygienist will also suggest tools, pastes and rinses that will help you in your quest to keep the tartar at bay.

Untreated gingivitis WILL lead to periodontitis or periodontal disease.  Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in older adults. 

If you think you might have gingivitis or wish to schedule an appointment to see one of our hygienists, please give our office a call.