Gingivitis is a form of gum disease that affects nearly 75% of Americans at some point in their lives. Usually, when gum disease is caught in this stage it can be treated and any damage can be reversed. But if it’s left alone it can quickly progress into more severe stages of gum disease and actually affect your overall health. In fact, research shows that more serious forms of gum disease can lead to tooth loss, heart disease, and stroke. This is one reason why it’s so important to see your dentist in Hagerstown at least every six months.
Gum Disease, Gingivitis, and Periodontitis
Let’s start by quickly taking a look at the confusing world of gum disease. Gum disease is a term used to describe an infection in the gums. However, not all forms of gum disease are the same. There are three stages of gum disease:
- Gingivitis — The first and mildest stage of gum disease.
- Periodontitis — The second stage of gum disease. Damage that occurs here can’t be reversed.
- Advanced Periodontitis — The most severe stage of gum disease which can lead to tooth loss.
What Causes Gingivitis?
Everything has to begin somewhere, and gum disease begins with gingivitis. This early stage of gum disease occurs with too much plaque builds up on teeth and up under the gums. Plaque, which occurs naturally in the mouth, is a sticky film that adheres to the teeth. Usually, it can be removed by brushing and flossing. However, when it’s not removed, the bacteria found in plaque can wiggle into the gum tissue and cause an infection. There are several things that increase someone’s risk of gingivitis including:
- Poor dental hygiene
- Tobacco use
- Chronic dry mouth
- Hormonal changes
- Crooked, hard-to-clean teeth
If you notice any signs of gingivitis, schedule an appointment with your dentist in Hagerstown as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to successfully treating gingivitis before it can progress into more severe forms of gum disease.
Signs of Gingivitis
What makes gum disease so hard to detect, especially in the early form of gingivitis, is that sometimes there are no symptoms. This is why it’s so important to see your dentist in Hagerstown at least every six months for checkups. Your dental team can catch what you may not see and get you treatment early. However, when there are signs of gingivitis, you may notice:
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Bad breath
- Receding gums
- Red, swollen, painful gums
As we’ve mentioned, treating gingivitis early is key to successfully reversing the disease and any damage it may have caused. This may include a deep cleaning from your dental hygienist and/or the use of prescription medications. It’s important to know that gingivitis can’t be treated at home and requires a dental professional.
We welcome you to call us to schedule an appointment if you’re overdue for a dental checkup or suspect you may have gum disease. We’re here to help.